What you should know
- Non-urgent surgeries will once again be suspended in parts of New York due to decreased capacity at hospitals.
- Governor Kathy Hochul noted that the state is closely watching a possible peak of the delta variant during the winter.
- As of Monday afternoon, no cases have been detected in New York of the new Omicron variant.
Some New York hospitals will have to suspend elective surgeries starting Friday due to concerns about hospital capacity following a surge in cases of the delta variant, Governor Kathy Hochul said Monday.
The governor pointed out that between 32 and 36 hospitals in upstate New York, which have a bed capacity of less than 10%, will have to suspend non-urgent surgeries. State health officials will reevaluate those specific hospitals in mid-January.
As of Monday, hospitals in upstate New York City, Long Island and the Mid-Hudson region continue to have the largest volumes of beds available, Hochul added.
Amid efforts to contain the long-standing delta variant, a new concern emerged after reporting on a new Omicron variant last week over the Thanksgiving holiday. A fact that led many counties to review travel bans.
Flights from South Africa and seven other southern African countries to John F. Kennedy International Airport were packed with US citizens on Monday. This is because on Monday the measure to ban travel from these countries to the nation seeks to stop the spread of the new variant of COVID-19.
While not much is known about the Omicron variant, New York City and state leaders say they are “closely monitoring” the variant and say no cases have been detected in New York or the rest of the United States. Until now.
It’s not yet clear how great the danger Ómicron poses to New Yorkers, vaccinated or not, but Gov. Kathy Hochul encouraged everyone to double down on precautionary measures: wear masks, wash hands and get vaccinated.
“The vaccine also remains one of our best weapons in the fight against the pandemic, and this news further emphasizes the need for each of us to be vaccinated and boosted if fully vaccinated,” said Hochul.
On the other hand, the effort to keep the vaccination momentum at the forefront as the primary tool against each and every variant threat was recalled by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, along with Mayor-elect Eric Adams during a press conference Monday. During the conference, the city’s Health Commissioner strongly recommended the use of masks.
Dr. Dave Chokshi noted that a new advisory “strongly” recommends that New Yorkers wear face masks in all closed public settings, regardless of vaccination status and prior COVID infection. The commissioner emphasized that the first data does not answer all the questions about the transmissibility and severity of Ómicron; they are likely to emerge in the coming weeks.