As I reported earlier, the Biden administration on Friday announced that, starting Monday, it will issue travel restrictions from eight African countries, after the World Health Organization (WHO) described a new COVID variant, omicron, as a "variant of concern." While it does not appear that the omicron has been detected in the United States yet, that hasn't stopped Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) from declaring a state of emergency for New York State.
Through this action, we will also be able to acquire critical supplies more quickly to combat the pandemic.— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) November 26, 2021
I urge New Yorkers to take advantage of our greatest weapon in this pandemic: the vaccine. Get vaccinated and get the booster as soon as you are able.
Before she issued the order, Gov. Hochul herself tweeted that the variant has not been detected in New York.
Help stop the spread, and keep yourself and your family safe:— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) November 26, 2021
Get vaccinated and boosted.
Wear a mask.
Wash your hands.
Stay home if you’re sick.
Eyewitness News for WABC reported on Friday evening that the order will "help boost hospital capacity and address staffing shortages ahead of potential spikes in COVID cases this winter" and "will allow the Department of Health to limit non-essential, non-urgent procedures for in-hospitals or systems with limited capacity (below ten percent staffed bed capacity.)"
The order will be put into place on December 3, one week from today, and last until at least January 15, at which point it will be reassessed, based on the numbers.
Such coverage does not mention that "staffing shortages" may be due to how New York has one of the strictest vaccine mandates in the country, with healthcare workers not even being granted religious exemptions. Earlier this month, however, a federal judge ruled that the mandate must, at least temporarily, allow for religious exemptions. In addition to New York, only Maine and Rhode Island do not offer religious exemptions.
Gov. Hochul earlier today also tweeted the state's numbers on vaccines as of Friday morning.
Vax Update:— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) November 26, 2021
-90.3% of adult New Yorkers have at least one vaccine dose (CDC)
-77.5% of all New Yorkers have at least one vaccine dose (CDC)
-56,353 doses administered over last 24 hrs
-29,496,108 total doses administered pic.twitter.com/eLv1xBnBDU
While more research is needed to fully know more about the new variant, CBS News' Khristopher J. Brooks reported that Pfizer is testing its vaccine against omicron. Carl Zimmer also reported Friday night for The New York Times that "New Virus Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines Still Likely to Work."