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VIDEO: New York Mandate Podcast, Ep. 39: Fitness Instructor Audrey

“I just thought I could wait it out here and things would go back to normal.”: A conversation with a fitness instructor who in June 2023 is still barred from teaching by vaccine mandates.
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“Don’t think that politics doesn’t work, or that it’s so compromised up at the top that you can’t chip away from the lower levels. Because we can make a difference, and we’re seeing it. We’re seeing it with the people we’ve elected, in little ways. . . . We’ve beat back Hochul on a lot of things here. So we just have to stay involved at the local level.” - Audrey

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In this episode of the New York Mandate Podcast, I talk with Audrey, an exercise and fitness instructor for seniors who continues to be barred from teaching classes at two community organizations where she used to teach, Hudson Guild and Greenwich House. One of them allows her to teach a class via Zoom.

Audrey talked with me about how losing those jobs has affected her life, as well as the movement against mandates and other pandemic restrictions that she’s been a part of since 2020.

I contacted the organizations Audrey is not able to work for to ask about their current vaccination requirements. Hudson Guild did not respond to my inquiries, but Greenwich House Director of Marketing & Communications Tearanny Street sent me this response:

“At Greenwich House, the health and safety of our employees, patients, students, and our broader community are paramount. To that end, our COVID-19 policies continue to align with the latest local and federal public health recommendations. New hires must continue providing proof of COVID-19 vaccination, while existing employees, interns, volunteers, and on-site contractors are strongly encouraged to stay updated with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.

As the recommendations from public health officials continues to evolve, so to will our policies and approaches in these areas.”

Both Hudson Guild and Greenwich House include vaccination requirements in their current job listings:

Hudson Guild’s listings say: “As a NYC contracted agency all positions at Hudson Guild fall under the NYC vaccine mandate. All employees, consultants, volunteers and interns must show proof of vaccination upon hire.”

Greenwich House listings say: “Greenwich House requires all new hires to be vaccinated and recommends all employees, interns, volunteers, and on-site contractors stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines (including booster shots).”

If you think it’s important for people to hear Audrey’s story, please share it!

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More from Audrey:

You can reach Audrey and her group of political organizers at regimechangeforny@gmail.com.

Here are some links related to things we talked about during the episode:

New York Freedom Rally
This is one of the organizations that grew out of gatherings in Union Square during the pandemic. Freedom Rally organized many protests against vaccine mandates and continues to advocate for informed consent and bodily autonomy.  

Medical Freedom Party
This new political party developed in part out of gatherings in Union Square during the pandemic. The party asserts that “bodily autonomy is the basis from which all freedoms flow,” and is running numerous candidates in the 2023 New York City Council election.

New York State Assembly and Senate Bill A7154/S1531
This bill if signed into law will require health care providers who administer vaccines to adults to report them to the state department of health or a regional health information organization, unless the person receiving the vaccine objects. The assembly version was passed during the 2023 legislative session, but the senate version remains in committee.

10 NYCRR 2.13: Isolation and Quarantine Procedures
These regulations put in place by the Hochul administration expanded existing New York State quarantine rules to allow the health commissioner to have not only people infected with a contagious disease, but “all such persons as the State Commissioner of Health shall determine appropriate” put into involuntary quarantine by local law enforcement. Critics often refer to them as the “quarantine camp” regulations. They were struck down by a lawsuit brought by attorney Bobbie Anne Cox, but the Hochul administration is appealing.

About the New York Mandate Podcast

The New York Mandate Podcast is an ongoing series of conversations exploring the costs and consequences of vaccine mandates in New York City. I talk with workers, students, and parents who have been directly affected by the mandates, as well as legal and policy experts.

In late 2021, the City introduced a series of requirements for workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. These requirements were put in place through executive orders issued by the administration of former mayor Bill de Blasio. They covered nearly all workers in New York City, in both the public and private sectors. They also barred unvaccinated adults, including parents, from schools.

Current mayor Eric Adams kept the mandates in place until November 1, 2022 for the private sector and February 10, 2023 for City workers, and has encouraged private employers to put their own vaccine requirements in place.

The views expressed in the New York Mandate podcast are the personal opinions of the people speaking, and are not intended to provide medical or legal advice.

Join the Conversation

Have you lost your job, been put on leave, or lost opportunities to work as an independent contractor as a result of your decision not to comply with a vaccine mandate in New York? Did you take a vaccine against your wishes in order to keep your job? Please get in touch with me at NYMpodcast@protonmail.com.

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New York Mandate Podcast
Conversations with New Yorkers who are bearing the costs and consequences of New York's COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
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