New York’s governor has ordered that health care workers must receive a booster within two weeks of becoming eligible. Kathy Hochul spoke Friday, as hospitals struggle with staff shortages due to the Omicron wave.
The state is experiencing an alarming rise of hospitalizations, especially among unvaccinated children, at an average rate of about 70,000 per day.
“We’ve already seen what’s been happening in our health care environments,” Ms. Hochul said. “Staff is getting sick, they’re leaving. We need them to get well, we need them to have the best fortification they possibly can, and that means getting a booster shot.”
The governor said that the state health commissioner, Mary Bassett, would recommend the change to a state advisory council on Tuesday, and that they anticipated “swift approval.” The requirement would apply to all health care workers who do not have a valid medical exemption.
Ms. Hochul also indicated that she would require visitors to nursing homes to wear “surgical-type” masks and show proof of a negative test.
Friday’s State Health Department report showed that pediatric hospital admissions have increased from 70 per week at December’s beginning to 571 per week at December’s end. They went up from 22 to 385 in New York City and nearly tenfold on Long Island and in the Mid-Hudson.
The report found that hospitalizations were increasing faster for children than for adults, Dr. Eli Rosenberg, deputy director for science in the Health Department’s Office of Public Health, noted in an interview.
Seventy-five percent of newly admitted children who tested positive were experiencing symptoms. Half had no comorbidities.
“We’re very concerned about this alarming increase,” Dr. Rosenberg said, adding that there had been a dangerous tendency throughout the pandemic to brush off the risks for younger patients. “What we’re trying to show is there are serious consequences for some children.”
He said that even if Covid is not a reason for hospitalization, it could be a factor in the treatment of children who are admitted.
The report highlighted the importance of vaccination for all children, regardless of their ability to pay. More than 90 percent were hospitalized from 5-11 years of age, and 65 percent were 12-17 years old.
In the state of Texas, 31% of children aged 5-11 have received at least one dose of vaccines, and 73% of those aged 12-17 have. Children younger than 5 years of age are not eligible for vaccines. This is the age group that has seen the largest increase in hospitalizations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data Friday showing a nationwide increase of children aged 4 and under admitted to hospitals with the virus.
Dr. Rosenberg stated that long-standing advice on social distancing and masks is still very important, especially for children who are vulnerable.
“We want everyone to double down on what we’ve been saying and take it seriously,” he said.
Source: NY Times