New York

NY Winter COVID Threat Has Pols Considering New Action

New cases in New York are at a seven-month high, and the response (or lack thereof) is quickly becoming a political hot potato

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COVID cases in New York state are at their highest since April, and the pressure to do something about it is quickly becoming a campaign issue ahead of next year's gubernatorial election.

On average, more than 6,000 people a day are now testing positive for COVID-19 in New York, rates last seen in the spring. The number of New Yorkers out of every 100,000 population testing positive is up 57% versus two weeks prior.

The percentage of people being tested who test positive is also spiking -- over 4.5% in places like Suffolk, Ulster and Orange counties, and as high as 13% in some central-eastern counties upstate.

Hospitalizations are on the rise again, as are deaths -- just like a year ago, though at a much lower level thanks to vaccinations. As of Sunday, the state said 78% of all New Yorkers ages 18 and up were fully vaccinated, and 66% of all residents when including children.

Gov. Kathy Hochul last week warned that a continued uptick in COVID-19 rates could mean New Yorkers would again face more virus protocols in high-risk communities.

But the governor hasn’t laid out any specific protocols that she could reinstitute, and she hasn’t offered a threshold for how high rates could rise before she’ll act.

Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who’s running for governor, released a statement Saturday calling on Hochul to address the spike.

She pointed out that large swaths of the state — including much of central, western and Northern New York — are seeing higher hospitalization levels than at this point in 2020.

“It is time to act now to save lives,” James stated. “Anything short of bold action is unacceptable.”

NBC New York / The Associated Press
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