NY governor declares state of emergency to prepare for omicron

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  • Kathy Hochul
    Governor of New York
  • Anthony Fauci
    Anthony Fauci
    American immunologist and head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) declared a state of emergency to prepare for a new coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa.

Hochul's declaration on Friday is one of the first emergency steps taken by a state in the U.S. against the new variant, known as omicron, whose discovery was announced Thursday.

The nation's top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, said in an interview Friday with CNN that there have been no omicron cases detected in the U.S., although he acknowledged that doesn't rule out the possibility the variant could be in the country.

"We continue to see warning signs of spikes in COVID this winter, and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it's coming," Hochul said in a tweet.

The executive order, in effect until at least Jan. 15, allows nonessential procedures to be postponed in hospitals in order to increase hospital capacity.

Hochul is urging residents to wear a mask, get vaccinated and get a booster shot to combat the new variant. At this point, however, scientists and medical professionals are racing to study the new strain to determine if current vaccines are effective in preventing severe disease.

The U.S. has already restricted travel from several countries in southern Africa in order to mitigate the spread of omicron.

Omicron was first detected in South Africa but has been found in several other countries, including Israel and Hong Kong.

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