Coronavirus: Mayo Clinic fires 700 unvaccinated employees

The Mayo Clinic has fired hundreds of its employees at hospitals nationwide for failing to meet a requirement to get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to WJAX-TV and multiple reports.

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Officials confirmed the decision Tuesday to WCCO-TV. Employees had until Monday to get vaccinated.

In a statement obtained by the Star Tribune, Mayo Clinic officials noted that nearly 99% of its staff members got vaccinated or received medical or religious exemptions from the vaccination requirement. The clinic employs 73,000 people in Minnesota, Arizona, Florida and several other states.

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“While Mayo Clinic is saddened to lose valuable employees, we need to take all steps necessary to keep our patients, workforce, visitors and communities safe,” the clinic said in the statement.

“Based on science and data, it’s clear that vaccination keeps people out of the hospital and saves lives. That’s true for everyone in our communities — and it’s especially true for the many patients with serious or complex diseases who seek care at Mayo Clinic each day.”

A spokesperson said that employees who were released Tuesday will be able to return to the clinic for future job postings if they get vaccinated, WJAX-TV reported.

>> Related: Coronavirus: Air Force discharges 27 for refusing to get COVID vaccine

Employers in several industries nationwide have required that their workforces get vaccinated against COVID-19 and fired employees who have refused. In October, NPR reported that workers who decline vaccinations make up a small fraction of overall employees. In September, North Carolina-based Novant Health fired nearly 200 of its more than 35,000 employees for failing to get vaccinated, according to WSOC-TV. In Washington, officials said more than 400 of the state’s 6,300 transportation workers left their jobs in October due to a vaccine mandate, KIRO-TV reported.

In November, the Biden administration announced vaccine mandates which were set to take effect this month, which would have required health care facilities which get federal funding and companies with 100 or more employees to have their workforces fully vaccinated. The mandates have been challenged in court, with the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear arguments over their validity on Friday, according to Reuters.

>> Related: Massachusetts hospital fires more than 200 for refusing COVID-19 vaccination

As of Tuesday morning, nearly 74% of the U.S. population – 244.9 million people – has gotten at least one dose of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just over 62% of Americans, or 206.5 million people, have been fully vaccinated, and almost 35% of those who have been fully vaccinated have gotten booster shots, CDC data shows.

Since the start of the pandemic, officials have reported 57 million cases of COVID-19 nationwide, resulting in more than 830,000 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, 295.4 million cases have been reported, resulting in 5.4 million deaths, according to the university.