Hochul extends statewide mask mandate as NY Covid hospitalizations jump 67% in a week

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday that the statewide mandate – which requires masks or proof of Covid-19 vaccination in public spaces – will be extended to Feb. 1.

Under the rule, which was set to expire on Jan. 15, businesses must choose whether to require people to wear masks or show proof of vaccination, Hochul said.

The mandate extension comes as the state continues to see daily reported case numbers and hospitalizations rise as Omicron sweeps through the state.

“It is almost not worth it to say we are breaking records, we are breaking records every day,” Hochul said.

Hospitalizations are seeing a significant spike, particularly for unvaccinated people. Around 80% of hospitalized people are unvaccinated, Hochul said.

A week ago, 4,744 people in New York were hospitalized with Covid, according to state data.

Today, Hochul reported that 7,919 people were hospitalized on Thursday– a 67% increase.

The state has also seen a high rate of pediatric hospitalizations among children under 5, who are ineligible for the vaccine. All told, 299 children were hospitalized this week, according to state data.

While most severe cases are seen in children who are ineligible for the vaccine, around 70% of children ages 5 to 11 are still unvaccinated.

Hochul announced that a state-sponsored testing site will open in the Syracuse area next week. No further details about the site were provided.

Hochul also announced changes for the SUNY and CUNY college campuses as the spring semester approaches.

Students must get a booster to return to for the spring semester before returning to campus or as soon as they are eligible. This requirement will take effect on Jan. 15.

In addition to the vaccine requirements, masks will be mandatory in all indoor public spaces on campuses. Students will also be required to provide a negative Covid-19 text before they return, regardless of vaccination status.

Random surveillance tests will continue for students throughout the spring semester. Quarantine requirements on campuses will continue to align with CDC recommendations and state policies.

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