With reports of a new COVID-19 variant, Governor Kathy Hochul has announced new steps to keep New Yorkers protected as hospitalizations rise.
“While New Yorkers might want to be done with COVID-19, COVID-19 isn’t done with us,” Governor Hochul said. “With the increase in hospitalizations and reported cases this summer, I strongly urge everyone to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves and their communities. To keep New Yorkers safe, my administration will continue to monitor this situation, share information on the new boosters as soon as it’s available, and continue to make N-95 masks available statewide.”
The state and its partners will continue to monitor the virus and report on new strains. New York will also continue to provide N-95 masks and encourage vaccinations, especially as an updated vaccine meant to guard against COVID variants is expected to be made available in the fall.
This announcement comes as reports are coming in of a new variant – BA.2.86 – and an increase in COVID-related hospitalizations across the state.
State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, “The Department of Health remains vigilant for changes to the virus that could further threaten our public health. We continue to monitor as new strains have emerged, with a particular focus on BA.2.86, the most genetically different strain we have seen since the original Omicron variant. These significant changes are important to note as mutations may allow the virus to evade prior immunity. Remember, COVID is now a treatable disease and tests are both easy and highly accurate. Antivirals such as Paxlovid are most effective when started within five days of the onset of symptoms.”
The Centers for Disease Control still recommend proper hygiene, testing, and vaccination, as well as staying home if ill, as the best ways to fight against COVID-19 and its variants.
With students preparing to return to school, both the governor and the Department of Health recommend schools follow current CDC guidelines and work with local health departments to implement feasible public health measures.