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Expand chart
Data: AHCA/NCAL; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

We've all heard dire reports about the dearth of workers in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, but the situation continues to deteriorate — and the growing number of mask mandates, which are vital, could exacerbate the crisis.

Why it matters: Stalwarts of the care community could be forced to close if they can't find enough people to fill open positions or if current workers are forced into such onerous shifts that they can't take it anymore.

Driving the news: Come next Monday, all health care workers in New York state will face termination if they don't have at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot.

  • This will "compound a staffing crisis already afflicting many hospitals and long-term care facilities — including group homes for disabled individuals, where some nurses are being forced to work 24-hour shifts," per the Times-Union of Albany.
  • About 81% of hospital employees "have been fully vaccinated, but many others are declining or reluctant to be vaccinated — putting them on a collision course with the mandate set to take effect on Sept. 27," the paper says.

By the numbers: 78% of nursing homes are concerned they may have to close if the staffing emergency persists, as are 71% of assisted living facilities, according to a survey by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.

  • 86% of nursing homes and 77% of assisted living providers said the problem has worsened in the last three months.
  • Nearly all are asking employees to work overtime or extra shifts.
  • 45% of nursing homes (and 40% of assisted care places) said vaccine requirements by states or employers were the biggest obstacle in hiring.

What they're saying: "I've been in the industry for 40 years, and I've never seen it this bad," said Terry Robertson, chief executive of Josephine Caring Community, a long-term-care facility in Stanwood, Washington, told the Wall Street Journal.

  • "We turned down 138 admissions from hospitals last month because we didn't have the staff to open another unit," he told the WSJ.

The bottom line: Health care providers are using these scary stats to press for more money from Washington, D.C.

  • "Congress has the opportunity right now, through budget reconciliation, to include meaningful investments in long-term care, which will help address key staffing challenges," Mark Parkinson, CEO of AHCA/NCAL, said in a press release.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 21, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on socioeconomic mobility

On Thursday, October 21st, Axios race and justice reporter Russ Contreras and business reporter Hope King examined the long-standing barriers to achieving socioeconomic mobility that persist today and actions policymakers and private sector leaders can take to alleviate obstacles, featuring Democratic candidate for Maryland governor and former Robin Hood Foundation CEO Wes Moore and National Domestic Workers Alliance executive director Ai-jen Poo.

Wes Moore touched on the pathways to economic mobility, how companies can incentivize employees to stay in their jobs, and which industries were hit the hardest by COVID-19.

  • On how socioeconomic inequities were exacerbated by COVID-19: “What we saw from COVID was not simply an exacerbation of these inequities, it was also an exposure. I think when we’re thinking about what the recovery needs to look like and how we need to think about our capital and these new capital resources that are going to be placed inside of our communities, we need to think about them as investments that we know is going to create a measurable return on our larger societal benefit.”
  • On getting employees back to the workplace safely: “We can’t have a return to work strategy if we do not also have a child care strategy in the way we are going to be dealing with that.”

Ai-jen Poo highlighted the obstacles to socioeconomic mobility for domestic workers and how policy can assist in providing better economic opportunities for many.

  • On the socioeconomic barriers afflicting domestic workers: “It’s been a crisis of impossible choices for domestic workers, we’re talking about 2.2 million mostly women, majority women of color, who work inside of our homes. They work in isolated conditions and earn poverty wages without access to a safety net.”
  • On building mobility in the care sector: “I’m thinking specifically in the care sector, we have the opportunity to invest in care jobs becoming family sustaining jobs for the 21st century, a once in several generations opportunity to transform poverty wage work into good work with real economic mobility.”

Axios SVP of Events & Creative Strategy Kristin Burkhalter hosted a View from the Top segment with Capital One Executive Vice President & Head of External Affairs Andy Navarrete, who discussed data-driven insights on the current state of the American consumer.

  • “We think that some of the root causes of underemployment, most notably the lack of childcare, where we see a disproportionate impact on women workers relative to men and again disproportionate impact for communities of color, that these are areas that the policymakers who are debating what social infrastructure would look like can hopefully glean some insights that may help drive some of the solutions they ultimately adopt.”

Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this event.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause (R), chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality, or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

4 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.

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