Despite a recent rise in pediatric hospital admissions across New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul said schools will stay open amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Hochul, providing a post-Christmas update Monday morning, said the state is planning “for all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario,” as the omicron variant has contributed to a case rise statewide.
That case rise has been accompanied by a rise in pediatric hospital admissions statewide; from Dec. 19-23, the state reported 184 admissions, with 109 of them in New York City alone.
Hochul’s goal, also repeated by acting Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, is to keep schools open despite these numbers and lower-than-expected vaccination statistics among children aged 5-11.
“We want to make sure these schools stay open,” the governor said. “We want more vaccinated; we want them boosted at some point as soon as possible.”
She added that at least 3 million tests were expected in the state this week, with almost all of them heading to schools.
Just 16.4% of New Yorkers aged 5-11 have completed their vaccine series, with 27.3% having at least one dose of the vaccine.
Bassett said those rates are “disappointingly low,” and added that she hopes parents take advantage of vaccinations, as they’ve been shown to reduce chances of severe illness.
“We need to get them higher than they are, particularly in the 5-11 age group,” Bassett added. “Parents can play a role in this, understanding that their children may become infected and may become sick.”
There were almost 27,000 cases reported statewide in the last day, though Hochul noted typically low numbers on Sundays with reduced testing on weekends. The state’s seven-day average per 100,000 people statewide is now at 180.82, with rates highest in New York City and Long Island, and lowest in the North Country.
There were 5,526 hospitalizations over the last day, with 132 deaths statewide this weekend.
“We are not seeing the spike in hospitalizations,” said Hochul, who said a “worst-case scenario” would be composed of more factors than simply cases or hospitalizations. “For many individuals, the symptoms [of the omicron variant] are mild."
“There’s not going to be one number; it’s going to be a combination of events," she said.