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'It's Coming' - Gov. Hochul declares State of Emergency in NY amid omicron fears

Governor Kathy Hochul has announced a State of Emergency in New York, along with an executive order designed to boost hospital capacity and address staffing shortages across the state ahead of potential spikes in COVID-19 cases this winter. 

The protocol comes amid warnings about a new and highly transmissible coronavirus variant, known as "omicron," that has not yet been detected in New York. 

"We've taken extraordinary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and combat this pandemic," Hochul said in a statement. "However, we continue to see warning signs of spikes this upcoming winter and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it's coming."

RELATED: Omicron variant: What to know about the new COVID-19 strain

Hochul's order will allow the state Department of Health to limit non-essential, non-urgent scheduled hospital procedures if necessary to ensure capacity and protect access to critical care services.

The new protocols will begin on December 3 and will be re-assessed based on the latest COVID-19 data on January 15.

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Earlier this week, Erie County — where Hochul lives — said that 91% of available hospital beds there were full and instituted a mask mandate for indoor public places. County and hospital officials pointed to a surge in cases as well as staff shortages at hospitals and nursing homes, where some patients would normally be discharged.

"The vaccine remains one of our greatest weapons in fighting the pandemic, and I encourage every New Yorker to get vaccinated and get the booster if you're fully vaccinated," Hochul said.

As of November 26, 90.3% of all adult New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose, and 77.5% of all New Yorkers have at least one vaccine dose.

6,295 New Yorkers tested positive for COVID on November 25, with the state's positivity rate rising again to 3.45%. 28 more New Yorkers died due to COVID-19. 

With the Associated Press.