Gov. says COVID deaths continue in NY

Jan. 20—Gov Kathy Hochul on Friday updated New Yorkers on the state's progress combatting COVID-19, saying there 34 statewide deaths from the disease reported on Jan. 19.

She also outlined basic steps to protect against the spread of viral respiratory infections that become more common in the winter season.

"I urge all New Yorkers to remain vigilant and continue to use all available tools to keep themselves, their loved ones and their communities safe and healthy," Hochul said in a media release. "Be sure to stay up to date on vaccine doses, and test before gatherings or travel. If you test positive, talk to your doctor about potential treatment options."

Hochul is urging New Yorkers to stay up-to-date on vaccines and practice proper hygiene to protect from Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), the flu and COVID-19 and reduce the patient burden on local hospitals.

Recently, the state Department of Health announced that the XBB.1.5. variant is now the most dominant strain in New York, accounting for more than 50 percent of COVID-19 infections statewide. Emerging at a time when both COVID-19 and flu cases remain high, early data indicates that XBB.1.5. is more transmissible than other circulating variants, though there isn't clear evidence of significant changes to the virulence or severity of disease, the release said.

The New York state Department of Health's flu surveillance report for the week ending Jan. 14 shows influenza remaining widespread throughout the state for a 15th consecutive week, with a total of 300,907 positive cases across all 62 counties reported to date. The report found that confirmed cases statewide dropped 50 percent, while overall hospitalizations were down 52 percent from the previous week, at 798 hospitalizations across the state.

Additionally, there were 13 outbreaks in acute care and long-term care facilities, the report determined. There were two additional pediatric deaths, leaving the total at eight statewide.

With flu season continuing and infections remaining widespread, Hochul encouraged all New Yorkers to get their annual flu vaccine. "The flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 are both circulating, so getting vaccinated against both is the best way to stay healthy and to avoid added stress to the health care system," the release said.

The Health Department is continuing its annual public education campaign, reminding adults and parents to get both flu and COVID-19 shots for themselves and children 6 months and older. For information about flu vaccine clinics, contact the local health department or visit vaccines.gov/find-vaccines/.

Hochul also continues to urge New Yorkers to get their bivalent COVID-19 vaccine boosters. Recently, the Department of Health announced new guidance for bivalent COVID-19 booster doses, which are now available for eligible children down to 6 months of age.

The updated boosters are the first to be targeted to the original virus strain and recently circulating variants and are recommended for young New Yorkers and all those eligible, the release said. To schedule an appointment for a booster, New Yorkers can contact their local pharmacy, county health department, or healthcare provider; visit vaccines.gov; text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations.