Incoming Governor Hochul Says She Will Prioritize Vaccines
Across New York City, the Delta variant has sparked a wave of new cases and an increase in hospitalizations, presenting new New York Governor Kathy Hochul with a major public health challenge that is expected to worsen by the day she officially takes up her duties in two weeks.
Ms Hochul, who is currently lieutenant governor, declined to say much concrete about the direction she would take for state policies on Covid-19 when Governor Andrew M. Cuomo resigns. Mr Cuomo announced his resignation on Tuesday after a sexual harassment scandal.
But Ms Hochul, a moderate Democrat in the Buffalo area who has kept a low profile as lieutenant governor, will soon be faced with a series of tough decisions on everything from advice on mask rules to vaccine warrants.
In her first press conference Wednesday as future governor, Ms Hochul did not say whether she would declare a new state of emergency to respond to the increased transmission, as Mr Cuomo did. last year in March at its peak. pandemic, a restriction that was not lifted until the end of June 2021.
She said she would use the next two weeks – as long as Mr. Cuomo remains governor – to consult with health experts and federal health officials as she develops a plan. She added that increasing vaccinations would be her goal.
“I can assure everyone that we will be looking at all options, but I believe the key to overcoming this has been in front of us for months,” she said. “It’s that simple that more and more people are getting vaccinated.
Although the number of new infections and hospitalizations recorded each day is well below the peaks of last winter, current totals still represent a dramatic increase since the end of June, when the epidemic appeared to be abating.
On Tuesday, the seven-day average for new infections in New York state reached 3,088, down from a low of 307 on June 26, according to a New York Times database. Hospitalizations rose to 1,478 from 823 during the same period.
Ms Hochul said she would work in communities that have high infection rates and low immunization rates to tackle vaccine resistance and increase access to vaccines. Current vaccines licensed in the United States protect most fully vaccinated people against developing serious illness from Covid-19, including from the Delta variant.
But getting enough people vaccinated to curb the increase in cases and reduce hospitalizations may require more than just encouragement from authorities.
Understanding the state of vaccine and mask mandates in the United States
- Mask rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July recommended that all Americans, regardless of their immunization status, wear masks in indoor public places in areas affected by epidemics, a reversal of guidelines it offered in May. . See where the CDC guidelines would apply and where states have instituted their own mask policies. The battle for masks has become controversial in some states, with some local leaders defying state bans.
- Vaccination rules. . . and bbusiness. Private companies are increasingly demanding coronavirus vaccines for employees, with different approaches. Such warrants are authorized by law and have been confirmed in court challenges.
- College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities require students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost all of them are in states that voted for President Biden.
- Schools. On August 11, California announced it would require teachers and staff in public and private schools to be vaccinated or tested regularly, the first state in the country to do so. A survey released in August found that many American parents of school-aged children are opposed to mandatory vaccines for students, but were more in favor of mask mandates for students, teachers and staff who don’t. don’t have their vaccines.
- Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and large healthcare systems are requiring their employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, citing an increase in the number of cases fueled by the Delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their hand -work.
- new York. On August 3, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York announced that proof of vaccination would be required from workers and customers for indoor meals, gyms, shows and other indoor situations, becoming the first city America to require vaccines for a wide range of activities. . Employees of the city’s hospitals must also get vaccinated or undergo weekly tests. Similar rules are in place for New York State employees.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon has said it will seek to make coronavirus vaccination mandatory for the nation’s 1.3 million active-duty soldiers “no later than” mid-September. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees should be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.
In New York, elected leaders have been reluctant to impose a vaccine requirement on workers – whether in hospitals, schools or nursing homes. Instead, many unvaccinated government and healthcare workers are subject to rules requiring them to be tested weekly – or in the case of nursing home workers, monthly.
Public health experts predict there may be a greater willingness to impose vaccination mandates if cases and hospitalizations continue to rise. In New York state, about 69.4 percent of people 18 and older are fully vaccinated, while in New York, that number is 67 percent.
Ms Hochul also faces questions over allegations that Mr Cuomo’s assistants underestimated nursing home deaths from Covid-19 last year to cover up the true death toll. When asked on Wednesday whether she would release full data on nursing home deaths, Ms Hochul ducked the question.
“My administration will be completely transparent when I am governor,” she said. “I am not yet a governor.
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