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New York State is Already Taking Action Against Omicron Variant, and It Hasn't Even Been Detected in USA Yet

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

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.

Before she issued the order, Gov. Hochul herself tweeted that the variant has not been detected in New York.

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.

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."

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