Governor Hochul declares disaster emergency, clearing way for major COVID mitigation steps in coming weeks

Governor Kathy Hochul says New York State will be taking action to address issues at hospitals.

A state of emergency order will trigger use of surge and flex system and expand purchasing ability, and will grant the Department of Health the ability to limit non-essential, non urgent scheduled hospital procedures if necessary to ensure hospitals maintain capacity. The declaration also allows Hochul to temporarily suspend or modify any statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation in an attempt to “prevent, hinder, or delay action necessary to cope with the disaster emergency”.

Hochul warned that the new variant known as Omicron hasn’t been detected yet, but said “It’s coming.”

Limited capacity is defined as below 10% staffed bed capacity, or as determined by the Department of Health based on regional and health care utilization factors.

The new protocols begin next week, on Friday, December 3. They will be reassessed on January 15, 2022.

“We’ve taken extraordinary action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and combat this pandemic. However, we continue to see warning signs of spikes this upcoming winter, and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it’s coming,” Governor Hochul said. “In preparation, I am announcing urgent steps today to expand hospital capacity and help ensure our hospital systems can tackle any challenges posed by the pandemic as we head into the winter months. The vaccine remains one of our greatest weapons in fighting the pandemic, and I encourage every New Yorker to get vaccinated, and get the booster if you’re fully vaccinated.”

The Hochul administration says boosting vaccination rates is the biggest priority for the state. Booster shots are also being encouraged for all adults.

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