Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York announced new measures on Tuesday designed to beat back the Delta variant of the coronavirus, including the allocation of $65 million to local health departments for the rollout of booster shots, assuming federal regulators clear them, and a plan to broaden vaccine requirements in schools and state regulated facilities.
“We’ll want to have the infrastructure in place to make sure that everybody gets a booster,” she said to a crowd in Buffalo.
Ms. Hochul, who was sworn in as governor last Tuesday, has made clear that fighting the Delta variant is her top priority, immediately announcing a universal mask mandate inside public and private schools in the state.
And in a move she previewed last week, she said on Tuesday that she was seeking the legal clearance to impose weekly testing requirements on school staff members who are unvaccinated.
The state will also be exploring vaccine requirements for staff members in state-regulated and congregate facilities, such as homeless shelters and correctional facilities, the governor said. Earlier this month, Ms. Hochul’s predecessor, Andrew M. Cuomo, said all health care workers in the state would be required to receive a first vaccine dose by Sept. 27, including staff at hospitals, nursing homes, and adult care facilities.
Ms. Hochul reiterated her desire to avoid shutdowns, and said that the vaccine is “the best weapon available to us.”
“We will get through this together, my friends,” she told a crowd at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine. “We know the recipe. We know how to get this done.”
The governor did not provide specifics on the distribution of the $65 million but made clear that local health authorities will be leading the charge, in a change from the top-down approach of the previous administration. “You tell me what you need and we’ll make sure there is funding available,” she said.
The new school rules, announced shortly before students return for classes, would amount to a mandate for teachers and other school staff, with a weekly test-out option.
Washington State and Oregon have recently announced full vaccine mandates for teachers, but New York will join California in requiring all of its public and private school staff to provide proof of vaccination or test weekly. Hawaii requires all state and county employees to be vaccinated or tested, including teachers. And last week New Jersey’s governor said that all teachers in that state would have to either be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.