As the holidays grow near, hospitalizations in many Upstate New York regions are at a higher rate than they were one year ago.
Last year, holiday gatherings caused a wave of hospitalizations in January.
Now, with worries of another jump in holiday related hospitalizations, officials have expanded eligibility for booster shots to New Yorkers.
The partial vaccination rate is currently 76% for the state.
While the expansion for booster shots has been deployed, officials have not enforced any other pandemic restrictions like mask mandates. They’re hoping residents will take charge in closing the herd immunity gap.
Governor Kathy Hochul is still letting local governments handle local COVID response, but threatened to step in if it does not improve.
Hochul is also considering localized restrictions for social and economic activity, as the differences become clear in positivity rates between areas. Upstate faces positivity rates between 5% and 9%, while New York City and surrounding counties are between 1% and 3%.
Masks are not required anymore, but the rate of voluntary use is far greater in lower New York State regions compared to upstate.
Local hospitals are again considering pausing things like elective surgeries to handle the influx of COVID related hospitalizations.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has threatened mask mandates again if the rate of positivity does not stabilize.