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Announces plan for new statewide weekly testing requirement for unvaccinated school staff
√ Decentralizes booster shot distribution to local health departments, announces $65 million available to local health departments to support these efforts
√ State exploring vaccine mandate for all staff in all state-regulated facilities
New measures build on governor's plan for return to schools this fall
√ Follows universal mask requirement in all schools enacted on governor's first day in office & $585 million school testing program using $585 million in federal funds
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday announced new measures to combat the COVID-19 delta variant and updated New Yorkers on the state's progress combating the virus.
Speaking at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine, the governor announced she will work with localities, the New York State Health Department and the Public Health and Health Planning Council in the days ahead to put in place mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated public and charter school employees, and to establish a vaccination requirement for all staff at state-regulated facilities and congregate settings. The governor announced $65 million will be available to local health departments across the state to support the “quick and reliable distribution of booster shots.”
"Last year, every community across the state came together in a profound way to say, 'We can do this,’ " Hochul said. "This war is not over; and the delta variant is a serious threat – especially for people who are still unvaccinated. We all need to remain vigilant to protect each other – and that means coming in to get your shot and booster shot, wearing masks in indoor spaces, and exercising basic safety measures that we are all familiar with by now."
A press release stated, “Getting children back to school where they can learn most effectively and protecting the students, teachers and staff are top priorities for Gov. Hochul. Building on the state Department of Health's directive requiring universal masking for anyone entering schools, the governor will be working with localities, the DOH and the Public Health and Health Planning Council to implement mandatory weekly testing for school staff who are not vaccinated."
Following the DOH’s announcement last week that all staff in health care facilities need to be vaccinated, the state is exploring how to expand this requirement to include staff at all state-regulated facilities.
Local health departments will be supporting the distribution of booster shots in New York, Hochul’s team said, “enabling them to use their knowledge and workforce to quickly deliver booster shots to their communities.” The governor is making $65 million available to local health departments to build the infrastructure for these efforts.
Niagara County Cases Rise
Also on Tuesday, Niagara County Legislature Chairman Becky Wydysh said, “The CDC considers any county with a benchmark of 100 COVID-19 positive cases per 100,000 residents to be an area of high transmission. Niagara County has been one step below that in the substantial transmission category for the last several weeks but, unfortunately, today crossed into the high transmission level.
“After consulting with the Niagara County Health Department and our public health director, Dan Stapleton, we have decided to implement a mandatory mask policy in all county buildings for both employees and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. We are taking this step to protect both employees and the public. Employees can remove their masks when working at their desks, provided they can maintain proper social distancing.
“The policy only applies to county buildings. But we do encourage all organizations across the county to consider whether a mask policy makes sense for their operations. We will continue to review this policy based on the data and amend it as necessary. Our hope is that we will see a decline in cases sooner rather than later.
“We also know that vaccines are the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate hospitalizations and death in those who do test positive. So, we strongly encourage those who have not yet been vaccinated to please consider doing so in the interest of your health and all those around you.”
What the Numbers Reveal
COVID-19 numbers for New York as of Aug. 30:
•Test results reported – 95,579
•Total positive – 3,789
•Percent positive – 3.96%
•7-day average percent positive – 3.35%
•Patient hospitalization – 2,234 (up 48)
•Patients newly admitted – 232
•Patients in ICU – 484 (up 16)
•Patients in ICU with intubation – 247 (up 18)
•Total discharges - 192,839 (up 185)
•New deaths reported by health care facilities through HERDS – 22
•Total deaths reported by health care facilities through HERDS – 43,573
•Total deaths reported to and compiled by the CDC – 55,602
COVID-19 vaccination data for New York as 11 a.m. Aug. 31
•Total vaccine doses administered – 23,665,694
•Total vaccine doses administered over past 24 hours – 46,143
•Total vaccine doses administered over past seven days – 367,128
•Ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose – 77.0%
•Ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series – 69.9%
•Ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) – 79.7%
•Ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series (CDC) – 71.6%
•New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose – 64.9%
•New Yorkers with completed vaccine series – 58.5%
•New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) – 67.3%
•New Yorkers with completed vaccine series (CDC) – 60.0%
COVID-19 numbers for Western New York as of Aug. 30:
•Test results reported – 4,320
•Total positive – 244
•Percent positive – 5.6%
•7-day average percent positive – 4.11%
•Patient hospitalization – 135 (up 8)
•Patients newly admitted – 15 (up 1)
•Patients in ICU – 39 (up 2)
•Patients in ICU with intubation – 33 (up 1)
•Total discharges – 9,233 (+6)
•New deaths reported by health care facilities through HERDS – 2
•Total deaths reported by health care facilities through HERDS – 2,586
•Total deaths reported to and compiled by the CDC – N/A
COVID-19 vaccination data for Western New York as of Aug. 29:
•Total vaccine doses administered – 1,548,815
•Total vaccine doses administered over past 24 hours – 1,636
•Total vaccine doses administered over past seven days – 15,439
•Ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose – 72.3%
•Ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series – 67.7%
•New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose – 61.3%
•New Yorkers with completed vaccine series – 57.1%
The CDC does not provide Western New York or other region's numbers for the following fields: ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose; ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series; New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose; New Yorkers with completed vaccine series.
Niagara County Department of Health “heat map” of active coronavirus cases, as of Aug. 25.