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DeSantis Says Federal Vaccine Mandate For Nursing Homes Could Spur Staffing Problems

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SUSAN WALSH / ASSOCIATED PRESS
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President Joe Biden, right, looks at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, during a briefing with first responders and local officials in Miami, Thursday, July 1, 2021, on the condo tower that collapsed in Surfside, Fla.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday raised questions about whether a federal move to require nursing home workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 could hurt staffing levels in long-term care facilities.

DeSantis described an announcement Wednesday by the Biden administration about the vaccination requirement as a “massive hammer.” The White House said workers will have to be vaccinated at nursing homes that rely on Medicaid and Medicare funding.

“The issue’s going to be, what’s that going to do to the staffing? They’re already short-staffed. And there’s a lot of people that feel strongly against being mandated, that they think it should be something that they choose and they may have reasons why they make different choices.

So I don’t know how it’s going to work. And I think that there’s going to be a concern among these institutions about maintaining all the staff,” DeSantis said during an appearance in Volusia County.

The mandate is expected to apply to more than 15,000 nursing homes nationally and is being pushed by the Biden administration as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus has caused a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Regulations will be published in September, according to a “fact sheet” the White House distributed Wednesday.

Florida nursing homes had the second-lowest percentage of vaccinated workers in the country during a four-week period in June and July, according to an AARP analysis released last week.