Hochul urges caution, booster shots amid spike in COVID-19 cases in WNY and the Finger Lakes

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WHEC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul delivering a COVID-19 update in Buffalo Tuesday afternoon amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in Western New York and the Finger Lakes.

Hochul opened the press conference saying she is concerned about the rate of COVID-19 infection in Western New York and the Finger Lakes, both of which are greater than 8%.

She said there is a direct correlation between lower vaccination rates, especially in rural areas, and the high infection rate.

"There is no reason these [vaccination] numbers should not be 100%," Hochul said. "It’s that 10% that’s holding everybody back."

She said the state is also seeing an increase in breakthrough COVID-19 cases, though the numbers she presented showed this week, only 1.2% of people with breakthrough cases are hospitalized with 0.7% in the ICU.

State data also show that as of Tuesday in the Finger Lakes, only 8% of hospital beds are available, though Hochul did mention that part of the reason why hospitals are full has to do with the pause on elective procedures last year, which resulted in many people delaying medical care, causing some of them to become very sick.

Hochul said anyone who lives in an area of high transmission and who feels they are at risk should get their booster shot. She said she defines that as anywhere where the transmission rate is greater than 5%, but that lifestyle factors like taking public transportation or working with people could make someone "high risk". She said it’s a personal assessment and not a term with a strict definition or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Hochul also stressed the importance of getting school-aged children vaccinated. She said the state is launching a new campaign to target what she called misinformation.

Hochul said, for now, she doesn’t want to be "too heavy-handed" and wants local governments to be empowered to address the pandemic, but cautioned that if the numbers don’t start on a downward trend soon, the state may need to take measures.

You can watch it live below (mobile users, please click here):