New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency on Friday due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the state and the threat of the Omicron variant.
She said the variant hasn’t yet been detected in the state but that she decided to sign an executive order to allow the health department to limit non-essential, non-urgent procedures at hospitals and acquire critical supplies more quickly. The order takes effect Dec. 3 and will be re-assessed based on the latest data on Jan. 15.
“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.
Earlier in the month, Hochul blamed vaccine holdouts for a rise in hospitalizations, saying that a worsening situation was avoidable if people would get the shots. She also discouraged large indoor gatherings for Thanksgiving, saying then that “we are heading into a vulnerable time.”
President Joe Biden on Friday imposed fresh travel restrictions to the U.S. on nations in southern Africa, where the omicron variant was first detected, joining efforts by other countries to try and slow the spread of a potentially potent new COVID-19 variant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said late Friday that no Omicron cases have been identified so far.
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