'Alarming jump' in COVID cases, hospitalizations statewide, says NY Gov. Hochul

On the one-year anniversary of the first COVID vaccine administered in the nation, cases and hospitalizations were on the rise in New York state in an "alarming jump," Gov. Kathy Hochul    said Tuesday.

The statewide average of COVID cases per 100,000 was up 58% since Thanksgiving. That rate was 43% last week. The sharp increase led Hochul to issue an indoor mask mandate.

"This is a crisis of the unvaccinated," Hochul said. "It did not have to be." 

Although New York has delivered more than 31 million vaccine doses in arms, 30% of New Yorkers are still not fully vaccinated.

"This was totally preventable so if I sound a little frustrated, perhaps I am," Hochul said. "This did not have to be the case one year after this life saving vaccine arrived right here in New York state."

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RELATED: New York's indoor mask mandate now in effect

"Hospitalizations are up 70% since Thanksgiving. When I announced this on Friday, they had gone up 29%," the governor said. "To me, that was the trigger I needed. Look what's happened just in that short time."

The increase was anticipated following the Thanksgiving holiday, the colder weather and the holiday season.

"And it has arrived," Hochul said. "This is an alarming jump statewide."

The governor defended her decision to reinstate a mask mandate until Jan. 15, 2022.

Incoming Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman is among several county executives in New York who said they would not enforce the new indoor mask mandate.

RELATED: New Nassau County executive says he won't enforce indoor mask mandate

"As of Jan. 1, I will instruct our health department and the other departments in the county to stand down and not enforce the mandate and issue fines," Blakeman said.

Hochul decried the leaders choosing not to enforce the mask mandate.

"This is a preemptive, very unobtrusive approach compared to shutting down schools and churches and synagogues and places of work like we saw before. I will not go back to that space and I am doing everything I can to protect people while we're still in a pandemic," Hochul said. "This is about getting us through this pandemic so we can finally say to everybody you no longer have to wear a mask — period," Hochul said.

Hochul also hinted that soon, fully vaccinated will no longer mean just the two shots. It will also include the booster. 

Dec. 14 marked one year since the world watched as Sandra Lindsey received the first vaccine dose in New York. But on Good Day New York on Thursday morning, Lindsey said she is still seeing unvaccinated New Yorkers arrive at the hospital. 

"We are still seeing unvaccinated younger people coming in very, very sick and that requires us to pull out all the stops, all the resources, just to take care of them," Lindsey said.