Governor updates COVID, flu numbers

Jan. 4—Governor Kathy Hochul said Wednesday there were 124 COVID-19 deaths reported statewide between Dec. 31 and Jan. 3.

"As we continue to welcome the new year, I urge everyone 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. "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 also urged New Yorkers to take common prevention measures — like staying up to date on vaccines and practicing proper hygiene — to protect from Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), the flu and COVID-19 and reduce the patient burden on local hospitals.

The state Department of Health recently announced new guidance for bivalent COVID-19 booster doses, which are now available for eligible children as young as 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.

The Health Department's weekly flu surveillance report, with data through Dec. 24, showed influenza remaining widespread throughout the state for a 12th consecutive week, with a total of 255,981 positive cases across all 62 counties reported to date, the release said. The report found that confirmed cases statewide dropped 23 percent, while overall hospitalizations were down 14 percent from the previous week ending on Dec. 24 at 2,501 hospitalizations across the state.

Additionally, there were 43 outbreaks in acute care and long-term care facilities, the report determined. There were also no additional pediatric deaths, leaving the total at five statewide.

Hochul also 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.

To schedule an appointment for a COVID booster, New Yorkers should 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, the release said.

For information about flu vaccine clinics, contact the local health department or visit vaccines.gov/find-vaccines/.