The New York Credit Union Association, in a letter to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday, urged the inclusion of financial services workers in New York state’s vaccine distribution plan, saying the state should not delay vaccine eligibility any longer for essential frontline financial services workers.
Throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic, credit unions have remained open to ensure their members could access their funds, manage their assets and obtain critical financial products, in addition to helping small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, providing more than 9,000 PPP loans totaling $429 million and supporting over 60,000 jobs during the first PPP round alone, the letter from William J. Mellin, Association president/ CEO stated.
The letter also noted that multiple New York credit unions have experienced coronavirus outbreaks in their branches or offices. Often, these were single-location institutions comprised of just a few employees and, while any employee absence can be disruptive, to a credit union with only three or four employees, potential exposure to COVID-19 has an especially “deleterious impact” on their operations and the communities these credit unions serve.
And the same is true for larger credit unions with multiple branches, which have had to redesign and reimagine their branch layouts and processes when outbreaks have occurred to ensure continued service.
However, credit union employees, particularly frontline staff, have put their own health at risk during the pandemic to serve New Yorkers and fulfill the credit union mission of “people helping people,” the letter stated.
“Yet despite their selfless efforts, credit union and other financial services employees have astonishingly been left out of the State’s vaccination rollout plan,” Mellin said. “As the State continues to ramp up its rollout plan, it’s paramount that financial services workers — who have rightly been deemed ‘essential’ by the State — be explicitly and urgently included for vaccine eligibility.”