Gov. Hochul orders stop of elective surgery in the middle of the COVID climb, Omicron

Here we go again.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed an executive order Friday postponing elective hospital operations – something that has not been done since worst of the initial coronavirus outbreak last year.

Hochul said she took the step to deal with staff shortages and increase bed capacity amid an expected “increase” in new cases and the emergence of the new Omicron variant in South Africa. The tribe is named after a letter in the Greek alphabet.

“We have taken extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and combat this pandemic. But we continue to see warning signs at the forefront this coming winter, and although the new Omicron variant has not yet been discovered in New York State, it, ”said Hochul.

“In preparation, today I announce urgent steps to expand hospital capacity and help ensure that our hospital systems can tackle any challenges posed by the pandemic as we enter the winter months. The vaccine remains one of our biggest weapons to combat the pandemic, and I urge all New Yorkers to get vaccinated and get the booster if you are fully vaccinated. “

Health worker scrubs up
The Governor decided to implement these measures in response to the emergence of the new COVID variant Omicron found in South Africa.

The edict, which limits non-essential operations, will enter into force for hospitals with a limited capacity – defined as at or below 10 percent of the available manned bed capacity.

The new protocols will enter into force on Friday 3 December and will be reassessed based on the latest COVID-19 data on 15 January.

The ordinance will also enable the state to more quickly provide critical supplies to combat the pandemic, she said.

Governor Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul says her ordinance will increase New York’s ability to combat an expected increase in COVID cases.
Robert Miller

Hochul’s action comes as her upstate neighbors have ignored her pleas to be vaccinated.

Upstate regions have both the highest COVID-19 positivity rates and stubbornly lowest vaccination rates compared to New York City, according to data from the State Department of Health.

While advising residents to continue wearing masks indoors and to practice good hygiene and be tested for COVID-19, she added: “The vaccine is also still one of our biggest weapons to fight the pandemic, and this news further underscores the need for each of us to be vaccinated and get the booster if you are fully vaccinated. “

Woman being vaccinated.
Upstate New York has the highest COVID rates but the lowest vaccination rates in the state.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

But the COVID-19 positivity rate has been sky-high upstate into the Thanksgiving weekend, while remaining low in New York City.

“The virus is still lurking among us,” said Ayman El-Mohandes, dean of the CUNY School of Public Health. “The low vaccination rates and high upstate positivity rates are very worrying.”

The highest COVID-19 positivity rate in the state was in her Hochuls backyard – the Buffalo / Western New York region, where 9.67 percent of residents tested positive from Thursday. Erie County has reintroduced a mask mandate indoors to counter the flare-up in cases.

Woman preparing to administer a vaccine
There are counties in upstate New York where less than 70% of eligible people have been vaccinated.

The three-day average COVID positivity rate in other regions: Finger Lakes, 8.85 percent; North Country / Adirondacks: 7.82 percent; Mohawk Valley, 7.7 percent; Syracuse / Central NY, 6.46 percent; and the Albany / Capital Region, 6.96%.

Meanwhile, the positivity rate in New York City – where there are strong mandates for government employees to be vaccinated – is 1.65 percent. That’s less than half the state average of 3.84 percent.

Elsewhere, the positivity rate is 3.14 percent in the middle of the Hudson Valley and 4.40 percent on Long Island, the analysis shows.

Meanwhile, the state DOH vaccine tracker finds that there are 18 counties upstate where fewer than 70 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Only 52.9 percent of adults aged 18 and over in Allegheny County in the Southern Tier region have been vaccinated, followed by Tioga County in northern Norway, where only 57.5 percent of residents got at least one jab.

The average for adult vaccination across the country is 90 percent.

The vaccination rate in Eric County, which includes Hochul’s native Buffalo, is 80 percent – meaning one in five adults has not been shot. In neighboring Niagara County, one in four adults is unvaccinated.

By comparison, in New York City, 97 percent of Queens adults and 94 percent of Manhattan adults are vaccinated, followed by the Bronx, Staten Island and Brooklyn with vaccination rates of 86.4 percent, 84.4 percent and 82.9 percent, respectively.

A recent CUNY School of Public Health examination of five U.S. metropolitan areas found that lower-income households and expressed more conservative ideology were strongly associated with vaccine resistance. El-Mohandes said resistance to vaccination could be a contributing factor to the lower vaccination and higher coronavirus positivity rates upstate.

“Leaders of all political stripes should encourage their communities to be vaccinated. The more we are protected, the less likely we are to see variants,” El-Mohandes said.

“We need to reverse the trend in vaccine resistance.”


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