RENO, Nev. (AP) — Nevada officials say some state employees may follow through on threats to quit but most will comply with Gov. Steve Sisolak’s mandate that workers at health care facilities and prisons be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1 or face administrative leave or reassignment.
DuAne Young, the governor’s policy director, said Thursday they are developing contingency plans in the event more people quit their jobs than expected and monitoring the situation closely.
“We do believe we will see some attrition, but we believe most state employees will step up and do what is right,” he told reporters.
Corrections officers warned the state Board of Health last week before Sisolak signed the new mandate on Tuesday that requiring vaccinations would cause mass resignations and staff shortages.
“We understand some individuals have strong beliefs about this vaccine, but we also know that state employees also have a duty to serve and protect those most vulnerable," Young said.
“We already have started to see some increased vaccination rates among state employees, not only among those who work with vulnerable communities population, but also in some of the other agencies that were not impacted by the mandate,” he said.
Ellie Graeden, an advisor to Nevada’s COVID-19 response team, said trends nationally show most employees don’t follow through with threats to quit if faced with mandatory vaccinations or testing.
“A lot of pep speak very loudly about not wanting to get vaccinated and do threaten to quit in advance of those mandates coming down," said Graeden, the CEO of Talus Analytics who has worked with the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center.
“What we expect to see and tends to hold true, is we hear a lot of push-back up front, but the actual numbers end up being much much lower once the ultimatum is set and their choice is to either get vaccinated or lose their jobs. That ends up being pretty compelling,” she told reporters during the Nevada COVID-19 response team's weekly update.
Graeden pointed to Texas’ Houston Methodist Hospital, one of the nation’s first health systems to impose a coronavirus vaccine mandates this spring, where she said nearly 25,000 employees ended up getting vaccinated. She said fewer than 200 actually ended up submitting their resignations.
In other virus-related developments, a private Catholic school in Reno for kindergartners through eighth graders is temporarily closing its doors because of numerous COVID-19 cases.
Our Lady of the Snows Catholic School Principal Tim Feutsch says the closure will last at least until Sept. 27 because multiple children in the middle school were out with COVID-19 and one entire classroom was under quarantine, the Reno Gazette Journal reported.
On Wednesday, Nevada’s hospital association urged residents to stay out of emergency rooms except in true emergencies, especially in northern Nevada, where a resurgence in COVID-19 cases continues at a rate twice as high as the Las Vegas area.
Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick said the 30-day average number of daily new cases per 100,000 residents has increased fivefold in the Reno-Sparks area over the past six weeks, from 354 to 1,621 now,
Tony Slonim, president and CEO of Renown regional medical center in Reno, said there is no current plan to re-open the alternative care site that was set up in a parking garage to care for a surge of patients last fall.
But Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center will start restricting visits starting Thursday as an increase in COVID-19 patients is stressing its hospital capacity.