Photo of Gov. Kathy Hochul announcing the Winter Surge Plan 2.0 by Don Pollard/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul on Flickr
On Friday, the state of New York recorded over 85,000 new cases of the coronavirus, the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic. Nearly 50,000 of those cases were reported in New York City alone. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced over the holiday weekend a “winter surge plan 2.0,” an attempt to strengthen the state’s fight against Covid with more testing, additional testing sites, and an increase in access to vaccines.
Of the 384,365 test results reported on Friday, December 31, 85,476 of them were positive, which is roughly 22 percent positive, according to the state.
While officials say cases of the Omicron variant are not as severe as previous variants, the hospitalization rate is rising across the state.
As of Monday, Hochul said over 9,560 New Yorkers are hospitalized with Covid. In New York City, there are currently more than 4,560 Covid patients hospitalized, an increase by over 2,000 patients in just one week.
Neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn are seeing some of the highest positivity rates of Covid. According to New York City data, there are 30 ZIP codes in the city with 7-day percent positivity rates over 40 percent, with more than half of them located in the Bronx.
“We are not in a good place, I’m going to be honest with you,” Hochul said during a press briefing Monday about the rapid rise of cases.
The focus of Hochul’s five-point plan is keeping schools open by providing millions of tests for students. The plan also calls on counties to adopt a “test-to-stay” policy, which means if a student tests positive, classmates will take a self-test kit home and return to school if the result is negative, instead of quarantine, as previously required.
According to the governor, the state has secured 37 million tests so far. Over 5 million tests arrived this week to coincide with the reopening of schools after winter break, with at least another six million expected on Monday.
Under the plan, the state’s Department of Health is extending the mask mandate in places without a vaccine requirement for two more weeks until February 1. The state recommends New Yorkers wear N95 or KN95 masks.
Hochul’s plan also includes launching a new program to train National Guard members as EMTs to support the hospital system and deploying additional National Guard to New York City.
The governor is also focused on ramping up vaccination rates among New Yorkers aged 5 to 11. State data show just under 30 percent of this age group have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
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