"We do anticipate there will be more cases but to the extent that they are mild, we'll address them. This is not cause for alarm. Again, it was foreseen ever since it was first reported out of South Africa," Hochul said at the beginning of her news conference on the state's response to COVID and the new strain's threat.
She added, "I want all New Yorkers to know that their state government, in collaboration with our local governments, our cities and our counties, are prepared for this."
The person, who was vaccinated, said they traveled from Minnesota to New York City and attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center from Nov. 19-21. The person has been advised to isolate from others.
"The person developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22 and sought COVID-19 testing on Nov. 24. The person's symptoms have resolved," the Minnesota Department of Health said.
"It is likely that this is not an isolated case, meaning that there is ongoing community spread of the Omicron variant in NYC," New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi wrote on Twitter.
Hochul said she is working with Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city Department of Health and its Test and Trace Corps to contact everyone who attended the convention, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.
"We encourage people who have been at a conference recently at the Javits Center during the dates of Nov. 18-22 that they also get tested. We're going to make sure that everyone knows. We have a way to contact these individuals. There is a list of individuals who attended. Also, they were vaccinated in order to go into this conference in the first place," said Hochul.
In a statement, de Blasio said the convention required masks and complied with the city's vaccine mandate and "to assume there is community spread of the variant" in New York City. He said anyone who attended the convention should get tested.
De Blasio and Hochul continued to urge New Yorkers to get vaccinated.
"We continue to see warning signs, high rates of cases across New York State, continue to be higher in upstate regions compared to downstate, and there is only one reason for this, and that is the decision by individuals not to get vaccinated," Hochul said. "It is not that there's not a supply. It's not that people are not eligible. It's not that they don't know about it. It is a conscious decision not to be vaccinated."
Chokshi echoed calls to get vaccinated and said on Twitter, "Anyone in attendance should get vaccinated immediately and take additional precautions, including wearing a face covering and social distancing."
Chokshi said all New Yorkers should "continue to wear a face mask at all times while indoors and in a public setting."
The governor also outlined a series of efforts to combat the pandemic and deal with the state's rising infection rates. She deployed 60 National Guard teams to various long-term care facilities around the state to boost staffing and signed an emergency order allowing hospitals at 90% or more capacity to decline elective surgeries.
That order, which takes effect Friday, impacts about 50 hospitals through Jan. 15, including six in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties, and Queens. However, the governor stressed that she didn't want hospitals to cancel preventive tests like colonoscopies and mammograms.
"Because what we saw last time was a spike in people getting sick from other causes, because they were not getting the medical care they needed. We do not want to have that scenario again," Hochul said.
All of this comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of Omicron in the U.S. had been detected Wednesday in San Francisco.
- New York State book online here or call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX
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That patient is between 18 and 49 years old and landed in the U.S. from South Africa on Nov. 22. The person developed symptoms Thanksgiving day and tested positive four days later. They were fully vaccinated but did not have a booster.
The CDC is reviewing more potential cases in several other states.
President Joe Biden also provided an update Thursday afternoon. The White House says his plan calls, in part, to:
- Encourage boosters for adults and vaccinations for kids to keep schools open,
- Expand free at-home testing
- Toughen rules for international travel
- Implement protections in workplaces to keep businesses open
- Deploy rapid response teams to outbreaks
Stay with CBS2, CBSN New York and CBSNewYork.com for the latest.
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