NEW YORK - As fears over the omicron variant of COVID-19, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has announced nursing homes and adult care facilities across the state must provide access to booster shots to all residents.
The directive comes just two days after the governor declared a State of Emergency in New York ahead of possible COVID-19 spikes this winter.
The emergency declaration will allow the state Department of Health to limit non-essential, non-urgent scheduled hospital procedures. It will also allow the state to increase hospital capacity, fight possible staffing shortages and acquire more supplies to fight the pandemic.
"We've got to do everything we can to protect vulnerable New Yorkers. That means making sure everyone is able to get a booster," Hochul said in a tweet.
Cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus popped up in countries on opposite sides of the world Sunday and many governments rushed to close their borders even as scientists cautioned that it's not clear if the new variant is more alarming than other versions of the virus.
The variant was identified days ago by researchers in South Africa, and much is still not known about it, including whether it is more contagious, more likely to cause serious illness or more able to evade the protection of vaccines. But many countries rushed to act, reflecting anxiety about anything that could prolong the pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people.