Gov. Hochul announces booster mandate for healthcare workers

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NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul is hosting a COVID-19 briefing Friday morning to update New Yorkers on the state’s ongoing pandemic response efforts.

In her briefing, she announced New York State will require healthcare workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine booster. There will be no test-out option.

“Getting boosted is a common sense move,” Gov. Hochul said. “We do not want people to keep having breakthroughs. Thank you to all healthcare workers who have been keeping this state safe.”

Healthcare workers must get the COVID-19 vaccine booster within 2 months of becoming eligible to do so.

Under the newest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, boosters are recommended 5 months after the original COVID-19 vaccine cycle is completed. Hochul said Friday that New York would adopt the guidance — a decrease from the previous 6-month recommendation.

Gov. Hochul reported 82,094 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York State Friday. She also noted a slight peak in the curve of cases per 100,000 New Yorkers, saying she was “cautiously optimistic” about what that meant.

Hospitalizations

Gov. Hochul reported 11,568 hospitalizations Friday morning, and 155 deaths. She said with hospitalizations lagging behind case numbers, hospitalizations may soon reach a plateau. 

“We still have hospitalizations increasing,” she said, “but I always ask, ‘What do these numbers actually mean? Who is being admitted for severe COVID cases and who is being tested while in the hospital for other reasons?’”

The governor said data showed 58% of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Friday were actually admitted to the hospital for reasons relating to COVID-19. The rest were hospitalized for other issues, then discovered to have COVID-19 in the hospital. That’s down 3% since Tuesday.

If Upstate New York’s hospitalization numbers are taken separately, however, 79% of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 Friday were originally admitted for treatment of COVID-19 symptoms.

Testing

Gov. Hochul said New York saw a record 377,000 COVID-19 tests in one day Thursday. “There was a time that could have been a weekly total not so long ago,” she said.

Hochul also said too many New Yorkers are seeking testing through hospital emergency rooms instead of established COVID-19 testing sites. She said in the 24 hours prior to her briefing, some 5,000 people sought testing through emergency rooms across New York.

“Do you realize what this is doing to our healthcare system?” she said. “I know you’re anxious, I really understand this, but if you’re an adult with very minor symptoms you can handle the runny nose. You can handle the throat being a little sore, a little bit of cough. Just treat it as you would a flu. Follow the protocols. Please don’t overburden our emergency rooms. They have so much work to do.”

Hochul said additional test kits and staff will be deployed to the hospital systems suffering most from people seeking COVID-19 testing through emergency rooms.

Nursing homes

Gov. Hochul announced new visitation rules for nursing homes in her Friday briefing.

Under the new guidance, visitors must have a proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours of their visit. Hochul said nursing homes would be supplied with enough tests to give them to those who wish to test immediately before visiting.

“It’s important for families to be together but the last thing that we want to see is someone coming in and spreading the virus to that loved family member or their neighbors,” Hochul said.

Nursing home visitors will also be required to wear a “surgical-type” mask while visiting.

Children and schools

Gov. Hochul said all public and charter schools in New York State should have enough tests available to implement test-to-stay programs in their districts. She said the state has been receiving 3-5 million tests for schools per week, and more are on the way.

“We need to support New York children and keep them in schools,” she said. “It’s a priority. We want parents to feel safe as their kids are heading into schools.”

Hochul and her team also noted the increasing rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations among children in New York compared to adults. The majority. of those children, even in the 5-11 age group, have not been vaccinated.

“There is an answer. It’s simple. It’s the vaccine,” Hochul said. “Please let’s protect our children. They don’t have to experience this. That is my plea as a parent.”

Surges in case numbers has caused issues for schools across the nation including locally. The governor has stated that the state is committed to keeping classrooms open and helping heal the economy following the surge last winter. She announced ‘Winter Plan 2.0″ last week to outline how the state will accomplish that.

Each region’s 7-day average of cases per 100K population is as follows:

REGIONJan. 3Jan. 4Jan. 5
Capital Region158.53171.19189.67
Central New York184.40203.56217.66
Finger Lakes134.08145.10158.94
Long Island407.77416.72423.40
Mid-Hudson321.16327.90334.36
Mohawk Valley138.85145.09158.31
New York City462.97468.22471.91
North Country99.32109.08124.22
Southern Tier137.25142.19157.02
Western New York189.69201.70207.50
Statewide344.18352.06359.36

Each region’s 7-day average percentage of positive test results reported over the last three days is as follows:   

RegionMonday, January 3, 2022Tuesday, January 4, 2022Wednesday, January 5, 2022
Capital Region16.31%18.04%18.72%
Central New York17.42%20.42%20.70%
Finger Lakes17.12%18.94%19.44%
Long Island25.49%26.36%26.76%
Mid-Hudson21.91%23.31%23.10%
Mohawk Valley13.78%16.21%16.89%
New York City22.52%22.51%22.42%
North Country13.37%15.02%15.79%
Southern Tier14.14%15.94%15.70%
Western New York18.73%20.05%20.68%
Statewide21.81%22.45%22.48%

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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