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Forget the Essential Worker!

Who needs them anyway?

As referenced in last week’s article, some of us may recall the ‘essential worker’ conversation of the recent pandemic.

As a retail grocery vendor, this appeared to be one of the times that I enjoyed my job the most. We felt valued, necessary, and our daily efforts somehow mattered more.

I recall it like it was yesterday. Every single day we were told how much we were appreciated, as though by merely doing our jobs, we had braved the toxic COVID atmosphere to ensure that life-sustaining bread was provided to the people.

As with most things in life, this societal frame of mind was temporal. It started to erode almost as quickly as it started. The term “anti-vaxxers” started making its way around social and mainstream media. Much like the stigma on an 8th grader that commits a socially unacceptable act that is ultimately written on the locker room wall, those refusing ‘the vaxx’ were not only being singled out- but called out. Seemingly overnight, these former “essential workers” were no longer being picked on; they were being fired.

On February 11th, 2022, the ‘essential worker’ officially became ‘non-essential.’

That Friday, more than 1,400 unvaccinated NYC employees (including 36 police officers) were fired from their jobs. In an article from police1.com, the details were both disturbing and disconcerting: “New York City officials say 1,430 employees, or about 1% of the city’s workforce, were fired on Friday for not complying with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” ABC 7 reports.

According to the report, nearly all the fired employees had already been on unpaid leave for over three months. Most of the terminated employees worked in the Department of Education and Housing authority, although 36 NYPD and 25 FDNY personnel were also fired, reported ABC News. An additional 939 employees on unpaid leave decided to get vaccinated and kept their jobs, according to ABC 7.

“City workers served on the frontlines during the pandemic, and by getting vaccinated, they are, once again, showing how they are willing to do the right thing to protect themselves and all New Yorkers,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “Our goal was always to vaccinate, not terminate, and city workers stepped up and met the goal placed before them.”

Adios Amigos!

If that weren’t sobering enough, fiercehealthcare.com offers an even more jarring report featuring examples of the astonishing number of healthcare workers no longer deemed ‘essential’:

The past several months have seen thousands of hospitals announce COVID-19 vaccination requirements for staff and clinicians as a condition of employment. Although controversial, the policies picked up steam when Pfizer and BioNTech’s Comirnaty received a full regulatory approval. Mandate announcements really kicked into gear when the Biden administration made workforce vaccination a requirement for Medicare and Medicaid participation — a legally contentious decision that was ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 25 states and territories that were unaffected by legal stays, CMS said in December that eligible healthcare providers must have a COVID-19 vaccination policy in place with all staff having received at least one dose of a vaccine, a pending or approved qualifying exemption, or a temporary delay as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by Jan. 27. As some provider organizations and states reach their first deadlines for partial or full vaccination, more reports are trickling out on just how many employees hospitals and health systems are losing to vaccine mandates:

• Advocate Aurora Health has terminated 440 employees who were not vaccinated for COVID-19. These employees, half of whom worked part time, represent less than 1% of the system’s roughly 75,000 workers.
• Kaiser Permanente announced that “just over” 2,200 employees from its nationwide workforce of roughly 240,000 had not met its vaccine requirement and were placed on administrative leave as of Oct. 4. The nonprofit said that the tally is declining daily, as suspended employees have until Dec. 1 to enter compliance and return to work.
• Mayo Clinic reportedly fired 700 employees on Jan. 4 who did not comply with its COVID-19 vaccination policy. This represents just under 1% of Mayo Clinic’s total of 73,000 employees. The system said that those who were let go will be able to reapply for job openings should they receive vaccines in the future.
• Northwell Health has reportedly fired about 1,400 one week after New York’s vaccine mandate went into effect.

This also includes at least two dozen employees at the manager level or above that did not receive COVID-19 vaccines by a prior internal deadline. It employed more than 76,000 workers.

These examples, including the last article’s consideration of Schindler’s List, are not the first of their kind- but a representation in a long list throughout history. If you are deemed valuable and worthy by others, having done nothing to earn and/or receive such accolades, remove yourself from the equation- it is a trap.

An old adage once reminded us that if we do not learn from history, we would be cursed to repeat it. It is incumbent upon us to listen past the noise, look beneath the surface, and read between the lines. It is only in that which hides in plain sight will we discover the truth of what they are no longer afraid to conceal. All that remains is for us to pay attention. Are you?

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