Hochul announces state of emergency to boost hospital capacity over new COVID ‘omicron’ variant

Coronavirus

NEW YORK (AP) — Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced an executive order aimed at boosting hospital capacity ahead of a potential winter spike in COVID-19 cases.

She announced the new protocol Friday amid warnings about a new and highly transmissible coronavirus variant known as “omicron,” which has not yet been detected in New York. Hochul’s order allows the state health department to limit non-essential surgeries, if needed, to ensure capacity.

The governor said the order also will allow the state to acquire critical supplies more quickly.

“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,” 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 move comes amid growing concerns about hospital beds and staffing.

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