Hochul Ends NYS COVID 19 Emergency Declaration today

September 12, 2022

First, all NYS Council members should have received an invite from OASAS, as well as a copy of the Notice from OASAS, regarding a webinar this coming Friday re: new masking orders for OASAS Programs.

NOTE: The Governor’s discontinuation of the NYS EMERGENCY DECLARATION ends her remaining emergency powers that have allowed her to make many major decisions without consult from Legislature. Unless I am mistaken, the Governor discontinuing the NYS Emergency Declaration does not necessarily mean an end to all of the flexibilities we have due to the OASAS and OMH Commissioners Emergency Waivers that have been being renewed periodically since last June. As you know, those waivers continue telehealth and other COVID flexibilities, some of which are derived from the continuation of the (federal) Public Health Declaration, which is still in effect.

The current end date for the OASAS and OMH emergency waivers is early and mid-October, respectively. I am checking on my understanding of all of this. It could be that some of the other flexibilities related to things like background checks, etc., may be effected by today’s decision. I’ll let you know.

New York to end Covid disaster emergency declaration

BY SHANNON YOUNG | 09/12/2022 01:17 PM EDT

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s Covid-19 emergency declaration will end Tuesday, nearly 10 months after Gov. Kathy Hochul took the executive action in an effort to curb viral transmission as coronavirus cases surged at the end of 2021.

Key context: Hochul told reporters after a New York City event that she will not extend the executive order when it expires Monday. The governor had regularly renewed the declaration, at times with slight modifications, since first issuing it on Nov. 26.

The announcement comes just days after Hochul lifted the state’s mask mandate for public transit and other congregant settings in an effort to “restore some normalcy.” (Masks must still be worn in health care settings and adult care facilities, including nursing homes.)

The governor, who is running for a full term in November, has long drawn criticism from Republicans, including GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin, for using her executive powers in the state’s Covid response.

What they said: “I will not be renewing them this time,” Hochul said. “We’re watching the numbers, right now we’re feeling comfortable that we can suspend them.”

The governor said the emergency order has served as “an important tool” for the state to establish mass vaccination sites, secure vaccines and testing kits and utilize out-of-state labs for testing. But with cases down and a new vaccine that targets the Omicron variant now available, “We’re in a different place now,” she argued.

New York reported a statewide seven-day average of about 18 Covid cases per 100,000 residents as of Friday — nearly half that reported when the order was initially issued in late November 2021.

If circumstances change, however, Hochul said she’ll make sure she has “all the tools necessary to protect” New Yorkers’ health.

Background: Hochul declared the state of emergency in New York in late November as the Omicron variant drove a rise in Covid cases to levels not seen since the early days of the pandemic. That order was originally set to be reassessed in mid-January.

The emergency declaration required the state to pursue a coordinated approach on hospital capacity, as well as support municipalities and counties in their efforts to facilitate and administer Covid-19 vaccinations and tests and combat viral spread. It had been extended a total of nine times, with the most recent version issued on Aug. 13.

Hochul has also repeatedly extended another Covid-related executive order, which declared a statewide disaster emergency due to health care staffing shortages. That measure, which was recently renewed through Sept. 27, drew criticism last spring due to its initial suspension of “safe staffing” and direct care spending requirements for nursing homes. The governor ended that suspension in late March.

Republicans have sought to compare Hochul’s handling of Covid to that of her predecessor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was granted sweeping pandemic powers in March 2020 that were later clawed back by the Legislature. Hochul, who took over in August 2021 after Cuomo’s resignation, was not granted those same powers.

New York is grappling with other health problems, too. The governor recently declared states of emergency due to the outbreak of monkeypox cases and detection of poliovirus in wastewater samples in New York.