NY governor declares state of emergency to prepare for omicron

New York Gov. Kathy HochulKathy HochulNew York's Hochul seeks clean energy boost in 6B budget Hochul raises .6 million since launching gubernatorial campaign De Blasio says he won't run for New York governor MORE (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 FauciAnthony FauciLet's stop saying 'breakthrough cases' — it isn't helping The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Voting rights week for Democrats (again) Trump-DeSantis tensions ratchet up MORE, 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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.