New York

Hochul Directs Booster Access at All NY Nursing Homes After State of Emergency Order

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has declared a state of emergency ahead of potential COVID-19 spikes this winter due to the already-circulating Delta and newly-identified Omicron variants of coronavirus. Greg Cergol reports.

Nursing homes and adult care facilities in New York must provide access to COVID-19 booster shots to all residents, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced.

The directive came down Sunday, two days after the governor declared a state of emergency ahead of potential COVID-19 spikes this winter due to the already-circulating Delta and newly-identified Omicron variants of coronavirus.

"We've got to do everything we can to protect vulnerable New Yorkers. That means making sure everyone is able to get a booster," Hochul tweeted.

The emergency declaration, which goes into effect on Dec. 3, will allow the state to acquire pandemic-fighting supplies, increase hospital capacity and fight potential staffing shortages. It would also allow the state Health Department to limit non-essential and non-urgent procedures at hospitals.

On Friday, the World Health Organization named the new strain and labeled it a variant of concern. But it remains whether it will take a foothold globally - or dodge immune responses from either prior infections or vaccination.

In her release Friday, Hochul again urged New Yorkers to get the jab, noting that just under 10 percent of adults in the state hadn't gotten at least one shot.

"The vaccine remains one of our greatest weapons in fighting the pandemic, and I encourage every New Yorker to get vaccinated, and get the booster if you're fully vaccinated," she said.

Earlier this week, Erie County — where Hochul lives — said that 91% of available hospital beds there were full and instituted a mask mandate for indoor public places. County and hospital officials pointed to a surge in cases as well as staff shortages at hospitals and nursing homes, where some patients would normally be discharged.

On Thursday, the Democratic governor announced that state officials had intervened to reopen an emergency room on Long Island that temporary closed due to staffing shortages related to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press