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Hochul takes steps to boost hospital capacity, address staffing shortages

Governor Kathy Hochul
MAX SCHULTE/WXXI NEWS
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Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Governor Kathy Hochul is announcing steps to boost hospital capacity and address staffing shortages in advance of potential spikes in COVID-19 cases this upcoming winter.

Through an executive order signed by Hochul, the New York State Department of Health will be allowed to limit non-essential, non-urgent procedures in hospitals and health systems that have limited capacity.

Hochul said that’s to protect access to critical health care services. Limited capacity is defined as below 10% staffed bed capacity, or as determined by the state health department based on utilization factors.

The new protocols will begin on Friday, December 3 and will be reassessed based on the latest COVID-19 data on January 15. The governor says the executive order will also enable the state to acquire more quickly, any critical supplies need to combat the pandemic.

Hochul said in her Friday statement that the state has taken “extraordinary action” to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But she also said there continues to be warning signs of spikes this upcoming winter, and she wants to expand hospital capacity because of the newly discovered Omicron variant, which was first identified in South Africa, and has not yet been detected in New York state.

But speaking of that new variant, Hochul said, “it’s coming,” and steps like expanding hospital capacity, as well as continuing to push for people to get vaccinated and the booster are important weapons in fighting the pandemic.