NY declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron COVID variant

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday declared a state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases and the newly identified Omicron variant of the virus.

Driving the news: The declaration enables the state to acquire supplies to fight a potential surge in cases, increase hospital capacity and combat potential staff shortages, NBC's local affiliate reports.

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  • The declaration also allows the state's hospitals to ensure capacity is able to meet regional needs by limiting nonessential care until at least Jan. 15.

  • The Omicron variant has not yet been detected in the U.S., but Hochul said Friday that "it's coming," according to NBC 4.

The big picture: Hochul's declaration came on the same day that the Biden administration announced it would impose air travel restrictions from eight countries in response to concerns over the new variant.

  • Hochul encouraged New Yorkers to get the COVID-19 vaccine or booster against the virus.

  • "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," Hochul said.

Go deeper: First cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant discovered in United Kingdom.

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