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New NY Plan to Battle COVID Surge includes More Testing, More Masking, Schools Open

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Governor Kathy Hochul
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governor.ny.gov

Here in New York, we’re going to start 2022 with a more comprehensive plan to battle the coronavirus … and an extension of a statewide mask mandate. Governor Kathy Hochul over the holiday weekend reminded New Yorkers that the surge in COVID 19 cases was expected. She shared several priorities of her administration and those of state health officials. To begin with, she wants people to continue to get tested.

“We are testing more and that’s one of the reasons we’re seeing high numbers (of cases).  That’s a good thing.  It is a good thing that we have so many test kits and locations and availability of tests all over.  And in terms of where we are in respect to the rest of the nation, we’re number 3 in the country for per-capita testing, number 1 in the large states.” 

One of the key components of her Surge 2.0 plan (details below) is to further increase testing, adding locations around the state. One of them will be at the Central New York Regional Market F-Shed. It will open Tuesday and offer rapid tests where results can be sent via text message or email the same day. The Syracuse Community Health Center also just increased the availability of rapid testing.

A second priority of Hochul’s in the New Year is keeping kids going to school.

“We’re literally days away from the big return from winter break.  Kids need to go back.  We’ve said this for so many reasons why it’s just not an option to keep our children home after what they had to go through last time, our teachers, our parents and everybody.  It was too much stress.  And we believe that in a school setting that is safe, where kids are wearing masks, keeps our children safer than they might be playing with friends or staying at home.” 

She urges parents to get their kids tested before school starts. She adds more availability of testing is key; That way when a classmate tests positive, other kids could get take-home tests to find out if they were exposed. State officials say more than 5 million tests were acquired last week that will get out to municipalities and schools, with 6 million more expected this week.

Finally, two additional mandates are part of Surge 2.0: Hochul is extending the mask mandate for all indoor locations into February; She’s also asking SUNY and CUNY schools to join Syracuse University and other colleges in requiring vaccination booster shots before college students return for next semester.

Gov. Hochul's Surge 2.0 plan includes five priorities:

1. Keep Schools Open: After two years of remote learning and school closures, Governor Hochul is focused on keeping students in school in the upcoming year. The first plank of Governor Hochul’s 5-part plan includes:

2. Keep Masking, Keep Testing: Governor Hochul recognizes that to stop the spread of the virus, New Yorkers must continue wearing masks and getting tested for COVID. Governor Hochul will:

3. Preventing Severe Illness and Death: With case counts rising, Governor Hochul is making it a priority to prevent severe illness and death by supporting our hospital system. The Winter Surge Plan 2.0 will:

4. Expand Access to Vaccines and Boosters: Vaccines continue to be the best defense against COVID hospitalization and death. While 95% of adult New Yorkers have received at least one shot, there’s more to do to increase vaccination and booster rates, especially among children:

5. Work With Local Partners: From the beginning, Governor Hochul has emphasized that the fight against COVID must take a collaborative approach. Fighting the winter surge requires close collaboration with local partners:

(Source: Governor.ny.gov)

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.