Hochul warns of stricter protocols if COVID cases continue to climb

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Hochul warns of stricter protocols if COVID cases continue to climb

With the holiday season approaching, Gov. Kathy Hochul urged New Yorkers who work in high-risk settings to receive a booster shot, warning of potential protocols that may have to be implemented if coronavirus cases continue to trend upwards.

Hochul, in a briefing to the public on Tuesday, described recent upticks in cases in regions of the state, calling for more people to receive the coronavirus vaccine before family gatherings begin to increase over the next month.

“I’m not happy about this at all,” Hochul said. “Infection rates are high. Our vaccination rates should be higher. I mean, there’s no reason why we’re not 100%.”

On Long Island, the coronavirus positivity rate increased from 3.03 percent on Friday to 3.48 percent on Monday, the most up-to-date figures at the time, according to Hochul. The seven-day positivity rate in New York was 3.40 percent as of Monday, she said.

“I want to celebrate Thanksgiving safely,” Hochul said. “I want to know that when we get together that we’re not going to get one of our loved ones sick.”

Stricter measures, she said, may have to be implemented if more people across the state do not receive their vaccinations. While children can remove masks during outdoor recess and while they are eating and drinking, she said it is imperative for them to become inoculated after federal approval was granted for children ages 5 to 11 to receive the vaccine several weeks ago.

Hochul said local county officials will have her support in creating  stricter health and safety measures if the cases continue to rise. More than 300 new cases were confirmed in Nassau County on Tuesday, according to the most up-to-date figures from the state Health Department. More than 74 percent of Nassau County is fully vaccinated, compared with 67.5 percent in Suffolk County, according to the figures.

The news comes when eligibility for booster shots could be expanded to all adults soon. As of Wednesday, boosters are recommended for individuals at least 65 years old or are at a high risk of exposure to the virus due to their job or health conditions who received their second Pfizer or Moderna shots more than six months ago.

A study conducted by Pfizer found a booster shot could restore protection against  symptomatic infection to around 95 percent. The side effects from the booster, according to the study, were comparable to those in the first two shots.

Health officials said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve Pfizer’s application to expand the booster to individuals at least 18 years old. An advisory panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to meet on Friday to discuss the issue. The C.D.C. would also have to approve the booster.

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