On Tuesday, Oct. 12, Judge David N. Hurd of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York granted a preliminary injunction barring the Department of Health (DOH) from enforcing a recent COVID-19 vaccination mandate to the extent it eliminated healthcare workers’ ability to seek a religious exemption.
On Sept. 30, 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services published guidance, “HIPAA, COVID-19 Vaccination, and the Workplace,” (the Guidance) that details the ways in which the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) intersects with workplace and other third-party inquiries regarding COVID-19 vaccinations.
Executive Order 14042 (the Order) generally requires federal agencies and executive departments to ensure that covered contracts and contract-like instruments include a clause that requires covered contractors (and subcontractors) to comply with COVID-19 safety protocol guidance published by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, including as it may be updated in the future.
It is official–the NYS Commissioner of Health officially posted the extension of the designation of COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health” through October 31, 2021.
Under the New York State Minimum Wage Act, minimum wage rates in New York increase each year on December 31 until reaching $15.00 per hour. In New York City and for large fast-food companies throughout the state, the minimum wage has already reached its $15.00 maximum.
The federal District Court for the Northern District of New York issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Sept. 14, 2021, enjoining New York State officials from enforcing emergency regulations imposing a vaccination mandate for certain healthcare workers to the extent that the regulations do not allow for a religious exemption to the mandate. The TRO is available here. As reported here previously, the emergency regulations, which were issued on August 26 by the Public Health and Health Planning Council under the New York State Public Health Law, apply to hospitals, nursing home and home health agencies, among other entities. The emergency regulations were notable for not including provisions for a religious exemption or any test out provisions. The court’s TRO places the lack of a religious exemption provision on hold, pending the outcome of the proceeding.
New York employers are presently “activating” their HERO Act plans, after the New York State Department of Health (DOH) officially designated COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that poses risk to the public health.”
On Sept. 6, 2021, Gov. Kathy Hochul directed the NYS Commissioner of Health to designate COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health. The designation is official and available on the NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) website.
Effective Aug. 26, 2021, New York State now requires all employers of health care workers working within the state to ensure that their personnel have received a full COVID-19 vaccination. The definition of “personnel” contained in the new regulation is expansive, including employees, students, volunteers and any other affiliates of the organization who “engage in such activities such that if they were infected with COVID-19, they could potentially expose other covered personnel, patients or residents to the disease.”