The deadline for one of the most-visible COVID-19 mandates in the Duluth-Superior area passed.  Both of the major medical facilities in town - Essentia and St. Luke's - issued an order for their employees to receive the COVID-19 mandate as a condition of employment. As that October 1 deadline passes, here's an update on the numbers.

First - it's worth sharing that while the end result is the same for both facilities, the deadline differed slightly.  For St. Luke's, October 1 represented the date that all employees needed to be fully vaccinated by.  Meanwhile, that October 1 date for Essential employees represented the date that they needed a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by, with the need to be fully vaccinated by November 1.

According to an article in the Superior Telegram, St. Luke's "had 27 employees resign due to its COVID-19 vaccine mandate".  As a means of comparison, the total staffing for St. Luke's is 2,979 employees.

Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, MN
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

Additionally at St. Luke's, "about 5% of [their] employees qualified for vaccine exemption due to medical or religious beliefs".  In order to continue employment and in lieu of being fully vaccinated for COVID-19, those employees will instead need to submit to weekly tests for an undetermined amount of time.

Marla Halvorson, St. Luke's Human Resources Director shared the medical facilities take on the vaccine mandate outcome:

"I know people were worried about the vaccine mandate and if it would have a dramatic negative impact, and we're please that that wasn't really the case.  Not that we wanted to lose those 27 employees, because we sure didn't.  In our perfect world, we would've kept every single employee."

Meanwhile at Essentia Health, the final results of the COVID-19 mandate aren't complete as the final November 1 date hasn't occured yet.  Essentia "conducted a company wide survey for employees to indicate whether they were vaccinated or had filed for an exemption from the vaccine mandate".  The health care facility reports that "nearly 98% of employees complied with  the survey".  Any employee that didn't comply and turn in a survey "will receive intent to terminate notices that go into effect November 1".

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The Superior Telegram reports that of the 14,100 people employed by Essentia, an estimated 300 did not comply with the survey and "will receive the notice of intent to terminate". However, that number may end up being bigger as the review process of exemption requests is still in the process of being completed.

Essentia Health hospital sign in Duluth, MN
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

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