NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governor Kathy Hochul has issued a State of Emergency in New York State to help boost hospital capacity and address staffing shortages ahead of potential spikes in COVID cases this winter.
Hochul announced the plan on Friday, which will allow the Department of Health to limit non-essential, non-urgent procedures for in-hospitals or systems with limited capacity (below ten percent staffed bed capacity.)
The new protocols are set to begin on Friday, December 3, and will be re-assessed based on the latest COVID numbers on January 15.
"We've taken extraordinary action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and combat this pandemic. However, 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," Governor Hochul said.
We don't yet know if Omicron variant will be like Delta.
The World Health Organization Friday designated the strain, now named Omicron, as a variant of concern and said multiple studies are underway as advisers continue to monitor the variant.
While scientists say there is reason to be concerned over the variant, they stress there is still a lot we don't know -- including whether the variant is indeed more contagious, whether it causes more severe disease or what its effects on vaccine efficacy may be.
"While this is concerning, as the WHO has indicated, I do think that we have to step back and wait for the science on this," epidemiologist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed told CNN.
If we acknowledge we are unsure of the Omicron variant's impact, why not be proactive in the schools?
There's no need to panic but encouraging boosters (see this large study from Israel on how well boosters do) would seem to help. Mandatory vaccinations for students as well as staff in NYC would seem like a good idea as long as there are reasonable exemptions. I do not understand why there are mandatory vaccinations for staff but not for students 12 years old and over like Los Angeles has with a remote option available for those who don't wish to be vaccinated.
Can my student still attend school if they do not get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Beginning Monday, January 10, 2022, eligible students who do not have proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 will be offered the District's independent study program at City of Angels, unless the student has a qualified exemption or conditional admission.
At the very least, massive COVID testing would seem like a reasonable policy. I have heard that teachers were turned down in NYC for testing when the testers were in their school this past week.
Again, we can look to LAUSD as a model on how to do this properly:
Los Angeles Unified is providing COVID testing for all students and staff.
All students and employees, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, returning for in-person instruction must participate in ongoing weekly COVID testing. This is in accordance with the most recent guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Tests are free, quick, easy, and your personal information will remain confidential!