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NC hospital system suspends 375 employees after COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline

Hannah Smoot, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in News & Features

Nearly 400 Novant Health employees have been suspended after failing to comply with the hospital system’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

But 98.6% of more than 35,000 employees are compliant with the program, meaning they have either received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccines or have been granted a medical or religious exemption. Novant is based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is one of the two main hospital systems in Charlotte, along with Atrium Health.

Novant workers who have gotten their first vaccine of a two-dose vaccine, either Pfizer or Moderna, have until Oct. 15 to get the second dose.

Employees who have an approved exemption must undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, wear N95 masks or other PPE, and wear eye-protection while working on Novant Health premises, according to the hospital system. Novant Health declined to say how many exemptions were approved.

Still, 375 employees across 15 hospitals, 800 clinics and hundreds of facilities have been confirmed to be non-compliant, according to the hospital system. That’s roughly 1% of Novant Health employees.

Novant did not say how many non-compliant employees are based in the Charlotte area.

Those employees have been put on a five-day unpaid suspension period, with the chance to comply with the mandate.

Refusal to comply after that five-day period will result in termination of employment, according to Novant. Novant Health’s deadline for the program was Sept. 15.

Atrium Health also requires all employees to get vaccinated or apply for an approved medical or religious exemption. Atrium’s deadline for employees is Oct. 31.

 

Mecklenburg County employee suspensions

The details from Novant Health come one week after Mecklenburg County says it began suspending employees for failing to comply with its COVID-19 vaccination and testing protocols.

As of Friday, county officials said more than 350 Mecklenburg County government employees had been suspended. That’s roughly 6.1% of the county’s workers.

Fully vaccinated Mecklenburg County employees must submit proof of vaccination to county Human Resources. And unvaccinated employees must submit negative COVID-19 test results every seven days.

Any employee who is non-compliant with the COVID-19 vaccination or testing protocols for two consecutive weeks, or a total of four weeks, will be fired, according to the county.

Nearly 74% of county employees were vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday, according to data shared with the Observer. That outpaces the overall vaccination rate of county residents, with just 55% fully vaccinated.

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