New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) on Friday declared state of emergency aimed at increasing hospital capacity and addressing a shortage of medical staff while the nation prepares for the new COVID-19 omicron variant.
The new protocols will enter into force on 3 December and the order will remain in place at least until January 15th, when it will be re-evaluated.
The emergency declaration will enable the State Department of Health to limit non-essential and non-urgent hospital procedures in situations where a hospital has less than 10% staffed bed capacity.
The order will also expand the state’s procurement capacity to procure emergency medical supplies.
The worrying omicron variant has not yet been discovered in the state, however the preparations must be taken now, Hochul warned in a statement. She noted that New York is already seeing “warning signs” of a potential rise in cases, even before the omicron variant hits.
“We have taken extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to combat this pandemic. However, we continue to see warning signs of spikes this coming winter, and while the new omicron variant has not yet been discovered in the state of New York, it is coming, ”Hochul added.
“In preparation, today I announce urgent steps to expand hospital capacity and help ensure that our hospital systems can tackle all the challenges posed by the pandemic as we enter the winter months,” the governor stressed.
“The vaccine remains one of our greatest weapons to fight the pandemic. I urge all New Yorkers to get vaccinated and get the booster if you are fully vaccinated,” she urged.
President Joe Biden announced on Friday that travel to the United States from South Africa and seven other countries in the region would be restricted from Monday.
The World Health Organization announced on Friday that the highly transmissible omicron variant has a “large number of mutations”, including some that are “worrying”.
It has been detected in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi, Israel and Hong Kong. That The first European case has been identified in Belgium.