New York Declares ‘State of Emergency’ over New Omicron COVID Variant

New York has declared a state of emergency over the new Omicron COVID variant as the transmission of the virus spikes to rates not seen since April 2020.

In a statement, Governor Kathy Hochul warned that the troubling new variant of COVID, that first emerged in Botswana, is “coming.”

Gov. Hochul’s warning comes as a leading epidemiologist described the new strain as “deeply troubling,” urging tougher travel restrictions and saying the virus could spark “pandemic 2.0.” 

Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, said initial data from the variant was worrying and border restrictions should be imposed. 

“Looks like vaccine evasion could be real with this variant,” he tweeted, pointing out that the two patients in Hong Kong who had the variant were both doubled-jabbed with the Pfizer vaccine. 

Earlier on Friday, the U.S. banned flights from eight Southern African countries to try and prevent the mutant strain, Omicron, from arriving. The ban goes into effect on Monday, meaning direct flights from Johannesburg will still land in the U.S. over the weekend.

On Friday night a flight from South Africa landed in the Netherlands, with “dozens” of people infected with the Omicron.

All passengers on board have been quarantined, and are being tested. 

Gov. Hochul said that all non-urgent medical procedures could be postponed beginning December 3 if the hospital’s capacity falls dangerously low.

If a hospital finds that it has less than 10 percent of “staffed bed capacity” free, then it will be permitted to cancel non-urgent, or elective, procedures, she ruled.

She also issued a declaration of disaster emergency, noting that COVID transmission is at a level not seen since April 2020.

The declaration unlocks sweeping powers for her to take emergency measures, without the usual state congressional approval.

“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 tweeted. 

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The CDC said they had not detected any Omicron cases so far nationwide and is confident they would find them quickly. 

“No cases of this variant have been identified in the U.S. to date,” it said.

“CDC is continuously monitoring variants and the U.S. variant surveillance system has reliably detected new variants in this country. 

“We expect Omicron to be identified quickly if it emerges in the U.S.”

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By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

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