New York Gov. Hochul declares 'disaster emergency' over Omicron variant: 'It's coming'

"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.


New York Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a state of emergency order via executive order on Friday due to coronavirus concerns over the Omicron variant.

Hochul's emergency order intends to increase hospital capacity in New York and will last until at least until Jan. 15, when it will be reassessed.

The state of New York will utilize the "surge and flex system," which allows the Department of Health to limit non-essential and non-urgent hospital procedures in situations where a hospital has less than 10 percent staffed bed capacity.

The new hospital procedures will take effect Dec. 3.

Hochul said while the Omicron variant hasn't been detected in New York yet, the state must brace for its arrival as officials are witnessing "warning signs" of spikes in COVID-19 cases. "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," Hochul added.

"We continue to see warning signs of spikes in COVID this winter, and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it's coming. Today I signed an Executive Order to help @HealthNYGov boost hospital capacity ahead of potential spikes," wrote Hochul on Twitter and via press release.

"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," Hochul urged in the government press statement.

Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on NBC's "Weekend TODAY" show Saturday, stating he "would not be surprised" if the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is already in the US, predicting it "almost invariably is ultimately going to go, essentially, all over."

President Joe Biden recently announced a restriction on travel from South Africa and seven other countries in the region beginning Monday.


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