New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has declared a state of emergency ahead of potential COVID-19 spikes this winter due to the already-circulating Delta and newly-identified Omicron variants of coronavirus.
The declaration, which goes into effect on Dec. 3, will allow the state to acquire pandemic-fighting supplies, increase hospital capacity and fight potential staffing shortages. It would also allow the state Health Department to limit non-essential and non-urgent procedures at hospitals.
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.
The move comes hours after the governor said her office was closely monitoring the new variant, which was first sequenced in South Africa earlier this week.
The variant contains around 50 concerning mutations from the original SARS CoV-2 virus that appeared in China in 2019, including more than 10 to the spike protein that allows the virus to access human cells.
On Friday, the World Health Organization named the new strain and labeled it a variant of concern. But it remains whether it will take a foothold globally – or dodge immune responses from either prior infections or vaccination.