ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul hosted a coronavirus briefing Monday morning to update New Yorkers on the state’s ongoing pandemic response efforts.
The governor’s office reported Sunday that there were 86,162 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide from Christmas Eve and Christmas combined. In terms of the volume of new cases, omicron has presented the highest levels to date during the pandemic for New York state:
“We have seen a major uptick in cases all around us, not just in New York, but throughout the northeast,” Gov. Hochul said.
The governor also said there’s been a subsequent rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations with more than 5,000 statewide currently, an increase of more than 1,000 COVID hospitalizations in New York since before the holiday.
The governor also reported 132 new COVID-19 deaths statewide from Saturday and Sunday combined.
“we’re seeing cases per a hundred thousand statewide up to 180, which is high,” Gov. Hochul said. “You can see where we’re trending there. Not a surprise, not something we weren’t preparing for, not something we’re not ready for, but it’s always disturbing to see those numbers continue as they do.”
“We had 5,526 New Yorkers hospitalized yesterday,” Gov. Hochul said. “We had 7,183 hospitalized this very day last year. You can see though, the hospitalizations are continuing to spike upwards. You get some comfort in seeing we’re not where we were in April 2020, we’re not where we were in January of 2021, but it is going upwards. And that is something that we are very cognizant of and have been anticipating and preparing for.”
“We’ve had more than 3.2 million vaccines administered just since December 1st. Doses, over 33 million just as of 11 a.m. yesterday. 4.3 million booster shots, and you see the gap, we are very excited to hit the 90% of one dose, that is very high,” Gov. Hochul said. “We’re proud of that, but this gap between the one dose and the fully vaccinated is still too large, 82.3, there is a lagging number because there’s a little time between the first dose and the second dose, but we should be catching up with that. So I’m urging everybody – if you had the one dose, be aware you’re on a process you’re a step on a process. You’re not there yet. You’re not protected, particularly against Omicron, which is just breaking through.”
There has been an “alarming increase” in the number of kids hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the New York State Department of Health.
“The risks of COVID-19 for children are real,” said Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “We are alerting New Yorkers to this recent striking increase in pediatric COVID-19 admissions so that pediatricians, parents, and guardians can take urgent action to protect our youngest New Yorkers.”
Although the pediatric hospitalizations are mostly in New York City so far, health leaders say it could be a trend that leads to similar occurrences elsewhere in the state.
Officials are calling on parents to get children aged five or older vaccinated. They are also asking parents or guardians to get vaccinated or booster shots, wear a mask and practice social distancing. They said this is the best defense for kids under the age of five, who are not eligible to get vaccinated.
“We must use all available safe and effective infection control, prevention, and mitigation strategies,” Bassett said. “Protect your children who are five years and older by getting them fully vaccinated and protect children under five by making sure all of those around them have protection through vaccination, boosters, mask-wearing, avoiding crowds, and testing.”
There is also a new return to work policy for health care workers who test positive for COVID-19. The new state guidance largely follows similar CDC guidance outlined last week. It cuts the time a fully vaccinated health care worker should quarantine from 10 to five days if they meet the following requirements:
- Be fever free for at least 72 hours without medication
- Have no more symptoms or improvement of symptoms
- Be without a runny nose
- Have a minimal, non-productive cough (not disruptive or producing phlegm)
Officials said health care workers returning to work after having COVID do not have to get a test to go back to work. However, they said returning workers should socially distance themselves from other coworkers when possible. They also said returning workers should separate themselves when eating or drinking.
“A reduction of isolation from 10 days to 5 days is sensible guidance and in alignment with the recent CDC guidance for health workers,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We are not advising people who are sick to return to work. This guidance allows vaccinated people in the critical workforce who test positive and have no symptoms or are mildly symptomatic to return to work.”
State officials say millions of at-home COVID-19 tests will be begin to be delivered this week to counties statewide, with two million earmarked for New York City.
Watch the full press briefing
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.