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Cuomo: Hospitals to begin testing for new COVID-19 strain, regional capacity remains flat

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that state Department of Health will be mandating that hospitals test for the new strain of COVID-19.

On Monday he said that his feeling was that the new strain of the virus was already here. There have been mixed reports about the new strain – prompting some worry about the ways in which the new virus could be more easily transmittable. However, public health officials have combatted that with information supporting that the vaccine beginning to rollout now could be effective at treating it.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

“The U.K. variant is a real issue – not only is it believed to be 70 percent more contagious than previous strains, but there is a very real chance it is already here. Upon learning of this new variant, we immediately worked with airlines to ensure that anyone getting on a plane from the U.K. bound for New York tests negative, but we need federal action and we need it now,” Governor Cuomo said. “We know that the virus originally got on a plane and came to New York from Europe in the spring. It’s inexcusable that the federal government has failed to learn that lesson and we need them to do the smart thing and institute testing requirements for travelers entering the United States from any country. In the meantime, it’s on the rest of us to be smart and continue fighting to stop the spread. Just remember — celebrating smart stops shutdowns. So as everyone prepares to celebrate the holidays, do your part and socially distance, wear a mask and wash your hands.”

He also announced that Wadsworth Laboratory has begun aggressive research of the new, highly contagious COVID-19 strain that has been discovered in the United Kingdom. Already, Wadsworth has looked at more than 3,700 virus sequences identified in New York, but has yet to find the U.K. variant present in any of the samples. Additionally, Wadsworth and the Department of Health have forged agreements with six hospitals from across the State to obtain additional samples and is continuing to make arrangements with other hospitals to do the same.

The Governor also announced that to date, 50,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered throughout New York. The state has received 630,000 doses thus far and expects to receive another 300,000 doses next week. With Christmas and Kwanzaa rapidly approaching, the Governor also called on hospitals, nursing homes, and medical personnel to continue providing vaccinations throughout the holidays to ensure nursing home patients and front line health care workers are protected as quickly as possible.

In other hospital-related news, Governor Cuomo said that there is no hospital in New York nearing critical capacity, which is a good sign for those worried about economic activity continuing into the New Year. The Finger Lakes had 33% of its total hospital beds available and Central New York had 27% available. The Southern Tier led local regions with 44% of hospital beds available as of Tuesday.