Hospitals even had "Heroes Work Here" signs posted outside their front doors for the adoring public to see and offer prayers of thanks for the greatness and selflessness of these people who were willing to take a risk to care for those of us who might have caught the COVID bug.
Paul Frangipane/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Those days are apparently long gone at the world-famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
The medical center said Tuesday that it had fired 700 of its employees for not getting vaccinated against COVID-19 by the Jan. 3 deadline, WCCO-TV reported.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, workers had until Monday to get their first shots or get a medical or religious exemption approved. Mayo officials claimed that they had granted the majority of exemption requests.
Those fired workers make up about 1% of the company's workforce, the outlet said. That's 1% of the workforce at the state's largest employer.
The Star Tribune said that Mayo Clinic officials asserted that the vaccine requirements were "necessary to provide the safest possible environment" at the facility that treats people from around the world for a host of complex and unique concerns.
"Based on science and data, it's clear that vaccination keeps people out of the hospital and saves lives," Mayo claimed in a statement, WCCO reported. "That's true for everyone in our communities — and it's especially true for the many patients with serious or complex diseases who seek care at Mayo Clinic each day."
No word from the clinic about vaccinated but infected workers spreading COVID to patients, which the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has admitted can happen, saying on its website, "CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms."
But there's good news for those onetime front-line heroes: They can return to Mayo to fill future openings to care for the sick if they get vaccinated, despite having cared for the same sick patients while unvaccinated for nearly two years.
So there's that.