Hudson Valley braces for omicron variant
State and local officials are making preparations in case the omicron variant reaches New York and the Hudson Valley.
It's important to know that there are no cases of the omicron variant in New York. In fact, it hasn't been found in the United States yet, but Gov. Kathy Hochul says she wants to be prepared - especially when it comes to treating patients.
The governor says the focus is on two things - freeing up hospital beds and increasing vaccination rates. More than 90% of all New York adults have at least one COVID-19 shot.
According to Hochul, hospital capacity is shrinking in the upstate area but not in the Hudson Valley where vaccination rates are much higher.
The governor also declared a state of emergency which allows hospitals at or below 10% of bed capacity to put a hold on elective surgeries until at least Jan. 15.
The Mid-Hudson region's positivity rate has gone up a bit to 3.5% but that's still three times lower than Western New York which is leading the state with a 10% positivity rate.
“We know exactly the hospitals we're talking about - probably 32 to 36 hospitals right now that fall into that category of having 10% or less bed capacity - so we can microtarget those," says Hochul.
Gov. Hochul is also encouraging people to wear masks indoors, but it's not mandated, at least for now.
The concern is that if the omicron variant arrives here, the number of hospitalizations will increase. But South African health officials say that's not been the case so far. "The majority of what we are presenting to primary health care practitioners are extremely mild cases, mild to moderate,” says Dr. Angelique Coetzee, of the South African Medical Association.