Gov. Hochul concerned about 'COVID fatigue' as omicron variant looms

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday acknowledged that many New Yorkers could be feeling so-called COVID fatigue as the pandemic drags on for more than 20 months and a new variant threatens to upend society yet again.

"I am very concerned about it — that is the reality we live in, especially in areas outside New York City, you just look at the numbers and people have said, 'You know, we're over this,'" Hochul said. "The numbers were not as high in other parts of the state during the early months of the pandemic, where everybody heard the sirens here and it was a time of great anxiety."

Hochul is urging New Yorkers who aren't vaccinated to get their shots and those who are to get boosters. She also endorsed wearing masks indoors regardless of vaccination status — something the New York City health commissioner is also urging — because of the potential threat from the omicron variant.

Get breaking news alerts in the free FOX5NY News app | Sign up for FOX 5 email newsletters

"It is not fun to be the person who has to keep saying, 'OK it's not over yet, we have to keep doing this,' but I'm saying this in the context of we want to get back to normal," she said. "We want to get to a time when our children are not wearing masks in school, we want to get back to the time when no one hesitates going into the workplace or ever getting on a subway."

CDC data shows that about 90% of all adult New Yorkers have gotten at least one vaccine shot. Hochul said she is proud of that statistic and proud of the New Yorkers who have followed all the public health guidance. But she said she expects the state to experience a surge in infections starting in the next few days because of holiday gatherings. 

"Let's see how this winter surge plays out — in January, February, let's just assess, we may be in a far better place," Hochul said. "It's a little more short-term pain with the hope of long-term gain. And that's what I'm asking people to do — is just stay with us, we've gotten this far."

RELATED: New York City health commissioner recommends mask-wearing indoors

But the governor said she isn't ready to impose new COVID-19 protocols.

"We're not talking about shutdowns, we're not talking about reinstituting the harsh measures that were needed at a time when we did not have any defenses," she said. "We had no defenses. We had no vaccination, the tests were in short supply. We are in such a different world right now."

RELATED: No omicron variant cases detected in NYC yet, mayor says