NY declares state of emergency as COVID spikes – Community News

NY declares state of emergency as COVID spikes

ALBANI – Government Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency in New York late Friday amid a spate of COVID-19 cases and the looming threat of a new variant recently found in South Africa.

Hochul’s move comes as hospitals again warn against being overrun with COVID patients and as state positivity hit 3.8% on Thursday, the highest since mid-April.

In some regions, rates were even higher: nearly 10% in western New York and nearly 9% in the Finger Lakes.

Hochul said the omicron variant that has fueled fears of a new spread around the world has yet to be found in New York, but warned it is likely to arrive.

By declaring a state of emergency, the Department of Health may restrict non-essential, non-emergency procedures for hospitals or systems “with limited capacity to protect access to critical health services.”

The state said the limited capacity “will be defined as less than 10% manned bed capacity, or as determined by the Ministry of Health based on regional and health utilization factors.”

Shoppers wearing face masks on a busy sidewalk in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, November 27, 2021. As the world grapples with the rise of the new strain of COVID-19, scientists in South Africa, where omicron was first identified, struggle to prevent its spread across the country.

The new protocols will start on Friday and will be reassessed on January 15. The measure will also allow the state to acquire supplies more quickly to fight the pandemic, Hochul said.

“We have taken extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and combat this pandemic. However, we continue to see warning signs of spikes this coming winter, and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it coming,” Hochul said in a statement.

Hochul said hospitals themselves need to expand hospital capacity in anticipation of the variant reaching New York and as rates rise.

The Democratic governor has yet to implement new widespread COVID safety protocols, such as mandating indoor masks in all public areas, as some counties are considering.

Erie County reintroduced an indoor mask requirement last week as cases continue to grow in New York state’s largest county.

“The vaccine remains one of our greatest weapons in the fight against the pandemic, and I encourage every New Yorker to get vaccinated and get the booster if you are fully vaccinated,” Hochul continued.