Shortly before Thanksgiving Steve Burton was fired from his General Hospital role as Jason Morgan, a role that he’s held for over three decades (1991 for everyone keeping track). Rumors had started to fly shortly after Ingo Rademacher was let go for the same reasons. (Ingo has a whole host of other media problems that I won’t go into right now except to ask, did he really just GO THERE?)
The production company for the Emmy-winning daytime soap has an on-set vaccine mandate for all of the actors and any crew members that come into contact or interact with the actors. The mandate took effect on Nov. 1st.
According to an Instagram video by Burton, he had applied for both medical and religious exemptions for the vaccine and was denied. General Hospital’s people confirmed his last date of taping was on October 27th. General Hospital’s producers have stated they currently have no plans to recast Burton’s role.
I have strong, conflicting opinions on all of this.
It’s no secret I love General Hospital, my mom can attest that I’ve been watching ever since Luke and Laura got married and probably even earlier than that but my memories only go back that far. So if you ask me if I’m a fan I will say, Hell to the Yes.
I’ve written about my beloved GH before and was once sent some GH swag but, and let me be clear, my love isn’t always tied to the actors who play the characters. It’s about the storylines and the characters in them.
I was stunned when I heard about Burton’s firing but, not necessarily surprised. By that I mean, I was not and am not surprised that a company chose to let an employee go for not following company rules.
Thousands of industries aren’t giving into to the requests of their employees to work at home or refuse to be vaccinated. One industry that quickly comes to mind is health care workers. Anyone who works in health care should be vaccinated UNLESS they are medically unable to have the vaccine. (I’m thinking of those who have allergies to certain vaccine ingredients, etc.) I don’t have the answers for the people who cannot medically have the vaccine except to say, I hope that someday soon, some awesome researchers and scientists come up with a solution.
If you don’t trust science, why are you here?
My BFF, person, my partner in crime, the person who would hide a body with me or for me, is an RN. Right now there is a huge nursing shortage and part of that is because nurses are walking off jobs because hospitals across the country are requiring their employees to be vaccinated.
I’m not going to pretend that I know what the workaround is for a healthcare professional who is not medically able to have the vaccine.
Nurses are leaving not just hospitals but hospices, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, you name a place where there are sick and/or dying people who require a nurse’s care, and they’re walking away.
This is incredibly frustrating for my BFF RN (and me but more on that in a bit). She is overworked, working at a hospital in her home state and also traveling a state over to fill in at nursing homes and other hospitals. She wouldn’t have to do all of that if her colleagues weren’t leaving their jobs.
During one of our chats, she said she couldn’t understand why a NURSE, someone who signed up to care for the sick and essentially took a similar “do no harm” oath a doctor takes, wouldn’t get the vaccine, or even more so, why be a nurse in the first place IF THEY DIDN’T TRUST THE SCIENCE behind the job they were trained (or as some say, called) to do?
I cannot understand that mentality. Because you should want someone who believes in the science of medicine to take care of you when you need it most.
Our definition of “together” is different.
Back to Steve… early on in the pandemic, the theme was “stay strong”, “stay safe”, “We’ll get through this together!” I learned the definition of together to be as one, don’t separate, stay with the group. I learned this by being the oldest child, when, if you didn’t stay together, someone was going to get in trouble (probably me because I’m the oldest).
Let’s be realistic, how do we stay safe when other people are running around with their tinfoil hats on shouting about hoaxes and government conspiracies?
At the beginning of the pandemic, we did stay together, for the most part. But now we are moments away from another year with Covid along with its ugly step-sisters Delta and Omicron and things are starting to feel like the world’s worst road trip; no one wants to stay together. They just want to know “Are we there yet?” so they can get out of the damn car.
I believe it’s more important to have the vaccine than not have it because we can’t turn the car around, we truly are stuck in this TOGETHER.
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In Burton’s case, the November 1st mandate was likely in part due to OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) directing any business with 100 or more employees to have all employees vaccinated or be subject to weekly Covid testing. OSHA’s job is literally to ensure all employees are safe while on the job – they create directives employers must follow to keep all employees safe.
OSHA wasn’t mandating a thing; that was up to the employers themselves. But if we’ve learned anything over the past 22 months, workplaces are integral in spreading the pandemic.
(I’m more familiar with OSHA than most because the hubby once worked for a hazardous waste disposal company and OSHA was very much making sure they followed protocol. They came up in many conversations.)
The OSHA ETS was blocked until the US Court of Appeals, Fifth Circut could investigate a petition for review from a bunch of lawyers representing various religious groups and states throughout the south. It has, however, been reviewed and is expected to take effect sometime in February 2022.
Maybe Steve did what he thought was right at the time, but I believe wholeheartedly so did the Powers That Be at General Hospital. I think their need to create their own vaccine mandate is a great way to send the message that we are still all in this together.
Come to think of it, Burton tested positive for Covid back in August 2021, explaining in a Twitter video he had been exposed at work. So, why would he NOT get the vaccine? The mind boggles ya’ll.
The show can’t simply shut down because a few actors don’t agree with the mandate. They have to look at the whole picture. (And let’s face it, of the network soaps still standing, General Hospital is the best one.) They have advertisers to keep happy, people to keep employing, and people to keep entertaining. Not everyone has the option to work from home and for those that don’t, an employer has to decide what’s going to be best for the majority in order to stay in business.
For the love of yarn people, WE DO NOT NEED ANOTHER HOUR OF GOOD MORNING AMERICA! (I’m looking at you ABC execs who canceled The Chew.)
To Steve’s credit, he did say in his exit video that he would love to come back and continue his role as Jason Morgan if the mandates change. I hope he gets that opportunity. I’m not quite sure who would come even remotely close to playing Steve’s iconic character. He’s also not calling for anyone to boycott the award-winning soap either. But don’t worry, hell hath no fury like a soap fan who’s been scorned. Thousands of people flocked to the video to comment that the show wasn’t worth watching without him, but I beg to differ. The show hasn’t changed much at all for me.
Truthfully, if we want to talk about WOWZA storylines, we should really recap the Sonny/Mike Nixon Falls fiasco. Right now, I’m loving it.
If you’re a General Hospital fan, I’d love to hear your thoughts, about Burton’s exit from the show, did the network do the right thing, and most importantly, DUDE, isn’t the Sonny/Nina thing bonkers?
(The answer is yes but I AM HERE FOR IT. I absolutely ship this relationship.)