Gov. Hochul: $65 million to help counties enforce New York’s mask or vax mandate

Coronavirus

NEW YORK CITY (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul hosted a COVID-19 briefing Monday afternoon to update New Yorkers on the pandemic response efforts.

The governor began the briefing by announcing New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett has tested positive for COVID-19, adding that the result was from a rapid test. The governor said Bassett is vaccinated, and boosted, and is feeling fine. The health commissioner will undergo further testing, but as she tested positive, she was not present for Monday’s briefing.

The governor announced Monday that New York set a new record Sunday for highest single-day increase since the pandemic began, with 23,391 confirmed cases.

“You can see the cases per 100,000 people has been rising, four times as many new cases from last week. We had about 6,000 new cases last Sunday to 23,000 this week. So that is a very high spike in cases.”

The governor said other nations that first confirmed the presence of omicron saw a sudden surge in new cases, and then a decrease.

“We are starting to see some encouraging news from other nations affected [by omicron],” Gov. Hochul said. “Those numbers went up quickly and then came back down and that what we expect to see happening here as well.

Cases per 100,000 residents, per region over the past seven days, are as follows:

  • Capital Region — 62.37
  • Central New York — 68.33
  • Finger Lakes — 56.51
  • Long Island — 112.50
  • Mid-Hudson — 75.01
  • Mohawk Valley — 75.30
  • New York City — 112.35
  • North Country — 56.33
  • Southern Tier — 110.42
  • Western New York — 55.63
  • Statewide — 93.78

The governor said the increase in new cases is leading to an increase in COVID hospitalizations as well.

“It did not have to be this way,” Gov. Hochul said. “We did not have to have this many hospitalizations. This is putting a real stress on our smaller Upstate hospital systems, but this is not March of 2020. It is not even December 2020 — they’re not comparable. We have to meet this moment with action.”

Current COVID-19 hospitalized patients by region are as follows:

  • Capital Region — 258
  • Central New York — 204
  • Finger Lakes — 505
  • Long Island — 603
  • Mid-Hudson — 399
  • Mohawk Valley — 140
  • New York City — 1,150
  • North Country — 94
  • Southern Tier — 194
  • Western New York — 472
  • Statewide — 4,020

The state’s vaccination progress, according to the governor Monday, is as follows:

  • 32,962,600 total doses administered
  • 136,4022 total doses administered in past 24 hours
  • 94.3% of New Yorkers 18 and older with at least one dose
  • 82.3% of New Yorkers 18 and older fully vaccinated
  • 74.4% of New Yorkers 12 to 17 with at least one dose
  • 65.5% of New Yorkers 12 to 17 fully vaccinated
  • 25.4% of New Yorkers 5-11 with at least one dose
  • 14.8% of New Yorkers 5-11 fully vaccinated

The governor encouraged fully vaccinated New Yorkers to get the booster shot as well.

“If you were willing to get a vaccination, and the boosters are now available, you need to be ready to get in line to get that booster,” Gov. Hochul said.

The governor said nearly 1.4 million booster shots had been administered statewide since December 1, with nearly 4 million booster shots administered in New York to date. Each region’s amount of booster shots to date, according to the governor’s office, are as follows:

  • Capital Region — 309,326
  • Central New York — 194,328
  • Finger Lakes — 314,490
  • Long Island — 575,288
  • Mid-Hudson — 467,039
  • Mohawk Valley — 107,680
  • New York City — 1,355,042
  • North Country — 91,796
  • Southern Tier — 142,513
  • Western New York — 351,467
  • Statewide — 3,908,969

The governor also announced that the state would be making $65 million available to localities to assist with the mask or vaccine requirement.

The state’s new indoor masking mandate for public places went into effect a week ago and was instated due rising COVID-19 rates statewide. The mandate requires all indoor businesses and venues to require customers to wear masks, or require proof of vaccination for entry.

The mask mandate is in effect until January 15, 2022, after which the state will re-evaluate based on current conditions. A violation of any provision of this measure is subject to all civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation. According to the governor, the respective business would face the fine for a violation, not an individual for not wearing a mask.

Local health departments are being asked to enforce these requirements, officials from the governor’s office said last week, but the governor announced Monday that state personnel will assist in spot checks to support counties for compliance checks.

Gov. Hochul also said $65 million will be distributed to municipalities to give local government and health departments additional resources to assist with the mandate in a way that fits best with their community. She said some counties might hire additional people for compliance checks, or set up a call center where residents could submit tips or complaints. She said other counties might consider a bulk purchase of masks so businesses can offer them to customers upon entry.

“We’re putting $65 million on the table to help counties associate with the costs for the protocols we put in place,” Gov. Hochul said. “I’m ensuring there’s at least $1 million available for the small counties and up to $2 million for the larger counties. They will be able to use this for creative ways, either for enforcement, or masks, or signs. We want to make sure that we pick up the costs for this.”

The governor also announced a new online state portal where New Yorkers can order at-home COVID-19 test kits, which will be delivered to their residence. With these, people can swab their tests, mail them back in an included envelope, and get a result with 48 hours without potentially exposing anyone else.

The governor also said that the state government remains committed to avoiding widespread shutdowns seen earlier in the pandemics, especially in regards to schools and adjacent economic activity.

“Part of our winter surge plan is we are committed to keeping our schools open,” Gov. Hochul said. “Many of our college campuses are in small towns and that is the livelihood of their community.”


Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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