Hochul: NY nursing homes required to begin offering COVID-19 booster

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— As part of the State of Emergency Order issued by Governor Kathy Hochul, nursing home facilities across the state will be required to offer the COVID-19 booster shot to residents.

The Emergency Order was issued on Black Friday after the discovery of a new Covid variant, omicron, and it goes into effect on Friday. The variant has not yet been detected in New York State, though cases have been found in Canada. News10NBC spoke with a local infectious disease expert who does not believe that this Emergency Order means it’s time to panic.

"If we continue to do the basics, you know wear masks when in public, try to get vaccines, try to get the boosters right now you know you don’t need to make any drastic changes. Not at all,” Dr. Emil Lesho said.

Also starting on Friday, there will be some changes coming for hospitals to help them deal with the overcrowding and short-staffing they’re currently experiencing. Under the order, the Department of Health will be able to limit non-urgent hospital procedures (only if capacity is an issue for a hospital).

The order will also allow the state to expand purchasing so it can buy critical supplies more quickly, and it will spark the “Surge and Flex” system which enables hospitals to get help from other hospitals.

There are still several days before the order takes effect, however, some Rochester-area hospitals are already beginning to flex spaces and postpone procedures.