A winter COVID surge is a real concern

As new COVID cases seem to be leveling off in the area, Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to make sure we don’t see a winter surge like we did last year.

 "We are paralleling where we were last year," said Hochul during a briefing Tuesday while referring to a graph showing the state's COVID trend. "The low point you see is really the late summer, fall and then all of a sudden that bump reflects the fall surge, winter surge and that's what keeps me up at night."

Her concern is prompting Hochul to continue vaccine mandates. Right now, the plan is to expand a healthcare worker vaccine mandate to include employees who work in certain facilities offering health care to people served by the Office of Mental Health and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. Staff will be required to show proof of at least one dose of the vaccine by November 1.

The state-wide seven-day positivity rate is 2.34%, compared to 2.65% one week ago. 

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"I think we're definitely trending into a very good place", said Dr. David Battinelli, Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer for Northwell Health. 

Dr. Battinelli says it’s difficult to predict whether there will be a study downward trend in cases and hospitalizations or if this is just the latest cycle of pandemic peaks and drops.

"I think it's a combination of more and more people becoming vaccinated coupled with better behavior," said Dr. Battinelli. 

Both of which Governor Hochul hopes continues, yet is concerned about vaccine hesitancy in Northern regions of the state, where positivity rates are higher.   She’s also worried the cooler weather could drive another spike in cases.

"I'd like to think that that will not happen, but we're heading into the time of year where people are going indoors," said Governor Hochul. 

The best practice right now, according to local doctors, continue to wear your mask, especially in larger gatherings.