Hochul clarifies COVID-19 state of emergency justification

The initial justification for the state of emergency indicated New York is experiencing transmission rates of the coronavirus that had not seen since April 2020, and that hospitals admissions are now greater than 300 per day. 

Hochul’s administration has since clarified that the April 2020 date — when the pandemic was in its second month and surging in New York  — was a “clerical error that will be corrected in any forthcoming executive orders,” according to a spokesman. Instead, it was a reference to April of this year.

The state Department of Health, in response to questions on the April 2020 justification, this week still defended that assertion and referred to seven-day averages for test positivity by region. It pointed to western New York as a region experiencing positivity rates last seen in May 2020, the closest of any region in the state to the April 2020 date. Other regions outside of the New York City metropolitan area ]are experiencing test positivity rates last seen in January. 

The health department also referenced cases per 100,000 people by region, which are generally approaching levels from January — when many regions outside of the New York City metro area experienced their highest case counts. 

Hochul’s emergency declaration came around the same time she issued warnings to New Yorkers about the highly contagious new variant omicron. Despite potential impressions in press releases that the order was linked to the new variant, the order was linked to state regulation that were updated last month, before the variant was known. 

Hochul received critiques for issuing the emergency order from Republicans, like potential gubernatorial candidate, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, of Long Island, who questioned whether it was necessary.