Gov. Kathy Hochul says, “Omicron is coming,” Prepares State’s Hospitals for Possible Influx of Patients
by Yehudit Garmaise
“While the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State: it's coming,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul, who on Friday afternoon signed an executive order that ensures the state’s hospitals can provide enough beds for what may be yet another COVID surge.
Before the discovery of Omricron, South Africa was seeing, a day, approximately 200 COVID cases, however, on Thursday, that number spiked to 2,500 cases a day.
Gov. Hochul announced a state of emergency that gave permission to the Department of Health to, once again, limit non-essential, non-urgent hospital procedures, if necessary, to ensure that the state’s health facilities can provide enough hospital beds to New Yorkers who need them.
The governor’s order takes place just 18 days after New York City was celebrating the return of international tourists, who provide a large part of the city’s economy, but who also might have already brought the new COVID variant into the state.
The emergence of the new Omicron COVID variant, unfortunately, caused Gov. Hochul today to announce that she is preparing the state to ensure that enough hospitals rooms, and not hotel rooms, are available.
Gov. Hochul’s executive order also will address staffing shortages and enable New York to more quickly acquire medical supplies that are critical to combatting COVID.
On Nov. 8, 253 international flights were the first in nearly two years to fly into New York City airports from all over the globe, reported Fred Dixon, who is the president and CEO of NYC & Company, which promotes travel to the city.
Dixon and Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated that “it takes the spending of four domestic travelers to equal that of one international traveler in New York City,” but President Joe Biden's reopening of American borders may have led to the introduction of the Omicron variant into the US.
In a new travel ban that will not take effect until Monday, President Biden has disallowed travel from South Africa, where the new variant was first found, and seven other African countries that are near South Africa.
For the past month, health officials have worried about the increased travel and gathering of the upcoming holiday season and the cold weather that drives people indoors, where COVID is more likely to spread.
"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,” Gov. Hochul said. “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."
(Photo credit: Darren McGee- Office of former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)