(NEW YORK POST) – New York State health officials confirmed four more cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, bringing the state total to 12, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Monday.
The news of the latest Omicron infections – including two on Long Island – comes as 32 upstate hospitals will now be blocked from performing non-essential surgeries under an emergency order from Hochul that went into effect on Friday.
The Omicron variant was confirmed by the Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center in two cases in Suffolk County, Long Island and two cases in Oneida County, Hochul said. None of the cases were connected to the Anime convention at the Javits Center, which was linked to the Empire State’s earliest known cases.
“With the new variant circulating, the best way to stay safe and prevent serious illness during the holiday season is by getting vaccinated or a booster shot,” Hochul said in a statement. “With more friends and family gathering indoors this time of year, we have the tools to fight this pandemic and you can protect yourself and your loved ones by getting vaccinated and encouraging others to get the shot, and mask up.”
The Omicron variant and an expected winter “spike” in overall cases sparked Hochul to sign an executive order last month that will postpone elective hospital surgeries, for the first time since the early days of the pandemic shutdown.
The new order barred non-essential surgeries for hospitals experiencing low bed capacities because of staff shortages or an influx of coronavirus patients. Some 32 hospitals hit that mark on Monday because they had 10 percent or less of their staffed bed capacity available, the Department of Health confirmed.
Some large hospitals are included on the list of those that must now postpone elective surgeries, including Albany Medical Center, the hospital near the state Capitol Building and the largest medical facility in the Capital Region.
The list also includes six hospitals in Western New York, Hochul’s own backyard.