In response to the new COVID-19 Omicron variant, New York Governor Kathy Hochul issued a state of emergency order on Friday, Nov. 26.

“We’ve taken extraordinary action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and combat this pandemic. However, we continue to see warning signs of spikes this upcoming winter, and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it’s coming,” Governor Hochul wrote in a statement.

In some situations, the state of emergency permits the New York Department of Health to restrict non-essential and non-urgent hospital procedures in cases where a hospital has less than 10% staffed bed capacity, Fox News reported.

The emergency protocols will be implemented on Dec. 3 and reevaluated on Jan. 15 using the most recent COVID-19 data.

While the Omicron variant has yet to be found in New York, Governor Hochul says that preparations must be made.

“In preparation, I am announcing urgent steps today to expand hospital capacity and help ensure our hospital systems can tackle any challenges posed by the pandemic as we head into the winter months,” Hochul added. “The vaccine remains one of our greatest weapons in fighting the pandemic, and I encourage every New Yorker to get vaccinated, and get the booster if you’re fully vaccinated.”

Hochul’s announcement came just hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled Omicron as a concern variant.

According to Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and senior fellow of the Federation of American Scientists, the Omicron variation maybe 500 percent more infectious than the Delta variant.

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