Gov says she's working to keep schools open
By Patsy Nicosia
Governor Kathy Hochul said Monday she has no plans to close schools despite the ongoing COVID surge and a dramatic increase in the number of children hospitalized.
But she also reserved the right to change her mind if things continue to deteriorate.
“I’m not looking to close schools…disrupt the economy,” Governor Hochul said.
“However, I always reserve the right to take different actions if the circumstances warrant.
“We’re prepping for all scenarios, including a worse-case scenario.”
The state is well-prepared for the surge, Governor Hochul said, and the numbers aren’t a surprise.
“It’s not March of 2020,” she said. “We have tools at our disposal.”
The state reported 5,526 New Yorkers hospitalized with COVID Sunday; the same day a year ago that number was 7,183.
“You get some comfort in seeing that we’re not where we were in April 2020. We’re not where we were in January of 2021, but it is going upwards,” Governor Hochul said, and space in some hospitals is becoming critical.
Among the tools the state didn’t have before: 37 million testing kits it’s working to put in people’s hands, and continuing vaccination efforts.
According to state Health Commissioner Mary Basset, from December 5-11, pediatric hospital admissions have more than doubled and in New York City, they’ve increased fivefold up to the week of December 19.
Among the children ages 5-11 who ended up in the hospital, none of them were vaccinated, Dr. Bassett said.
In the older children hospitalized, about a quarter were vaccinated.
“We’re releasing this data because we want pediatricians [and parents] alert to the diagnosis,” she said, and increase vaccination rates, which remain low—just 16.4 percent for those 5-11.
If there’s good COVID news, it’s that both the state Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control have issued new guidance on isolation for those testing positive.
Under the state guidance, people who are fully vaccinated can return to work after five days if their symptoms are minor or resolving and if they mask.
The CDC’s guidance is similar, but is geared toward critical health care workers.
The state has ordered more than six million COVID testing kids, two million of them headed immediately to NYC schools and the remainder for schools across the state, either for in-school use or to send home with kids, Governor Hochul said.
Locally, the state opened a COVID-19 testing site yesterday in Milford at the American Legion Post at 86 West Main Street.
The site will be open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 8am-5pm, and Saturday, 8am-noon.
To make an appointment, visit:
The Milford testing site also will be open to walk-ins.
Also, the Schoharie County Health Department will be holding a vaccination clinic at Ryder Elementary School in Cobleskill on Wednesday, January 5, from 4-6:30pm.
Links for signups for the Moderna and Pfizer boosters and the pediatric Pfizer first does for ages 5-11 are available on the county website at www4.schohariecounty-ny.gov.
Walk-ins will be available after 4:30pm as supplies allow.
In Schoharie County, 59.7 percent of those eligible and 66.9 percent of those 18 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Thursday, the state Health Department reported 43 new COVID cases in Schoharie County.