Friday, December 3, 2021, marks the start of New York’s State of Emergency being officially official and people are still confused about what exactly it means.  

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The State of Emergency was issued with the goal to prepare for, and attempt to avoid a surge in the Omicron COVID variant which has found its way into the United States from Southern Africa. These are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this most recent State of Emergency that we’ve heard from people.  

Does New York's State of Emergency Mean There's Another Mask Mandate?

No. Although Governor Hochul is encouraging all New Yorkers to now wear masks indoors, get tested regularly, stay home if possible, and get a booster six months after their last dose of the COVID vaccine, there is no official mask mandate.

How Long Will New York Be Under a State of Emergency Because of the Omicron Variant?

New York's State of Emergency will remain active until January 15, 2022. After that date, it will be reassessed and a decision will be made whether to extend or cancel it.

What Does the NYS State of Emergency Because of the Omicron Varient Exactly Mean?

Governor Hochul's declaration means that the New York State Department of Health will have the power to limit non-essential and non-urgent hospital procedures if a hospital has less than ten percent staffed bed capacity. Additionally, the order means that there will be expanded purchasing ability to obtain medical supplies if they're needed.

Is COVID Really Spreading in New York?

According to the office of New York Governor Kathy Hochul, the state of New York has seen a spike in cases of COVID-19 at a rate not seen since April of 2020. The Governor's office also reports that each day, there are roughly 300 new COVID-19 hospitalizations and that the state must find a way to make sure that capacity in hospitals across the state is increased in order to meet the needs of each region.

What Hospital Procedures Are Being Limited Because of New York’s State of Emergency?

Non-essential surgeries and procedures which are normally conducted at a hospital will be limited if the performing hospital has less than ten percent staffed bed capacity for the duration of the State of Emergency. 

Does New York’s State of Emergency Mean I Have To Stay Home?

No. Unless otherwise told, you are free to travel. The purpose of New York's State of Emergency isn't to keep you from going to work or school. It is to free up resources and finances in the event that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus begins to wreak havoc on New Yorkers. Think of it as a plan laid out in advance so that if everything hits the fan again, New York isn't left stumbling with no direction.

 Does New York's State of Emergency Mean I Can't Visit My Family in a Nursing Home?

No. Again, this State of Emergency has only been issued to free up bed space in hospitals as well as money to purchase medical supplies. However, Governor Hochul has said that she will make sure that the National Guard is on hand to offer help at nursing homes should there be staffing shortages and she did hint at the possibility of changing the visitation rules at nursing homes if there is a surge in COVID cases again.

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