Faced with a surge in COVID-19 infections from the omicron variant, New York officials have given up on a key part of their virus management strategy: contact tracing.
"We are going to be allowing counties to decide if they want to contact trace," Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a Tuesday press briefing, reports Politico.
"This is not a requirement anymore. Everyone knows someone who has had it. It spreads quickly, and it doesn’t make sense to have counties keep up with who gets tested for positive when they could be focusing on vaccinations instead."
Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said that the change in approach will also help public health staff across New York focus on testing and vaccination, according to a report from The Associated Press.
"The big change for New Yorkers is that if you test positive, you should no longer expect a call from your health department," Bassett said.
With the government now taking a hands-off approach, people in many parts of the state will be left to handle their isolation themselves and reach out to their own contacts. New York City, however, plans to keep up its own contact tracing program, which is the largest in the nation.
According to Politico, hospitals in three regions of New York are so overwhelmed that the state ordered elective surgeries suspended. Procedures in Central New York, Mohawk Valley, and the Finger Lakes are called off for at least two weeks.
With the pandemic came a shift in the way people work, and widespread telecommuting quickly took hold. According to Hochul, this is no longer necessary or feasible.
On Tuesday, Hochul said she prefers workers to be masked and vaccinated in the office, rather than working remotely. She reiterated that employers should make the decisions they deem appropriate, but that the state workforce will not return to working-from-home as a rule.
As new virus cases rise, Hochul said the data offer a "glimmer of hope" that the latest wave may be plateauing in New York City, even as the surge continues in other parts of the state.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.