NEW YORK CITY (WROC) — Governor Kathy Hochul hosted a coronavirus briefing Tuesday morning to update New Yorkers on the pandemic, including a major change in the state’s contact tracing policy.
New York State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett joined the governor for Tuesday’s briefing, which announced a change in the state’s contact tracing protocol.
The big change, according to the health commissioner, is that if New Yorkers test positive for COVID-19, they should no longer wait for a call from the state health department.
Dr. Bassett says the volume of new cases statewide has strained local health department resources that can be better used elsewhere. She said the state would instead launch a website with test form submissions so people can have the necessary paperwork for employers if they test positive.
“The thing is, we’re changing the approach to contact tracing because of the winter surge,” Dr Bassett said. “It’s a matter of flexibility. We are moving to more self-management and our guidance remains in line with the CDC. This will help local governments make a big difference in vaccination and testing. »
“We’re going to allow counties to decide if they want to contact the trace,” Gov. Hochul said. “It is no longer an obligation. Everyone knows someone who has had it. It’s spreading fast and it doesn’t make sense for counties to track who tests positive when they could be focusing on vaccinations instead.
Although the state will no longer require contact tracing, the governor and health commissioner said local county and health departments can still maintain contact tracing programs in place if they choose. .
The governor said statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations were still on the rise, with 12,540 New Yorkers in the hospital with the virus as of Monday. The governor also reported 160 new deaths from COVID-19 in New York. Although the number of hospitalizations continues to rise, the governor said the rate is starting to slow.
“The rate of increase is slowing down,” Governor Hochul said. “Hospitalizations continue to grow, but the rate of increase is slowing and that is very encouraging. It is a constant reminder; hospitalizations are a serious and high number. We want to make sure people see this trend for hospitalized COVID-19 patients under 10,000 and reduce the stress on hospitals.
The governor said three areas of New York — Finger Lakes, Central New York and Mohawk Valley — currently have hospital capacity issues. She said non-essential elective medical procedures in those three regions will be restricted for the next two weeks and that the state will reassess the status of hospital capacity in those regions after 14 days.
“It will only be for two weeks,” Governor Hochul said. “I want everything to be short term so that it is flexible. I don’t want our hospitals to be overwhelmed.
The governor said COVID-19 hospitalizations, consistent throughout the pandemic, have been a lagging indicator and the result of the spike in new cases in recent weeks.
She said new case rates and state positivity rates have begun to plateau, and even decline in some areas, for the first time in weeks.
According to the governor, New York City’s case and positivity rates were the first in the state to show signs of a slight decline, and she added that trajectories for the northern region of state were about two weeks behind New York.
“It’s actually going down,” Governor Hochul said. “Each case is one too many, but if you look at the trendline, it looks like we’ve passed that peak. We’re not at the end, but it’s a beacon of hope when we desperately need it.
The governor said New York set a single-day record on January 7 with 425,782 COVID-19 tests reported, adding that these were strictly lab-tested samples and did not include test results. home.
“It’s just a snapshot, which is amazing,” Governor Hochul said. “We are very proud of it.”
Asked about the Feb. 2 deadline for the state’s mask-or-vax mandate, the governor said it was too early to say whether it would be extended.
“We are getting through this,” Governor Hochul said. “I can’t wait to get back to the mandates. Since day one, I’ve worked to protect the health of our state and our economy. When people look back on that time, they’ll see that we had no downtime.
“People need to know that there is an end in sight,” Governor Hochul added. “Vaccination and mask requirements have allowed us to keep businesses open. There is no written manual on how to deal with a pandemic. We look forward to seeing this trend decline.
Full press conference:
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