New York has a new state of emergency in the COVID pandemic with the emergence of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
On Friday, November 26, Governor Kathy Hochul acknowledged the discovery of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 variant, also known as the Omicron variant, and declared New York to be in a state of emergency.
In a statement Friday, Governor Hochul said: “The Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center laboratory will continue to actively monitor selected COVID-19 virus samples throughout New York State to compare sequences and identify circulating and new variants. Although we have not yet identified any Omicron cases, we are not surprised that new variants are emerging that could possibly end up in New York. “
Under the statement, the New York Department of Health is able to limit non-essential and elective care in hospitals in an attempt to protect the ability of these facilities to accept the sickest patients. Prior to the detection of the Omicron variant, hospitals and staff were stressed by an early winter spike in cases caused by the highly contagious Delta variant.
At this time, much is not known about the Omicron variant, including whether it spreads more easily or how seriously it can make infected people seriously ill. Scientists are also trying to determine whether the many mutations in the protein spikes on the coronavirus will impact the effectiveness of current COVID-19 vaccines.
Governor Hochul said, “I want to remind New Yorkers to continue to take the precautionary measures we know to reduce the spread of this deadly virus: wear a mask in indoor public places, use good hand hygiene. , get tested and stay home in case of illness. The vaccine also remains one of our greatest weapons in the fight against the pandemic, and this news further underscores the need for each of us to be vaccinated and to receive the booster if you are fully vaccinated. “
President Joe Biden, speaking from Nantucket where he is spending the Thanksgiving vacation with his family, urged everyone who has been vaccinated and eligible for the booster to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The president also banned travel to and from South Africa and seven other countries in that region where the Omicron variant has been detected. US citizens, however, are allowed to return home from this region.