By Nikhila Natarajan
New York, Nov 27 (IANS): New York governor Kathy Hochul has signed a sweeping executive order hoping to smash staffing and capacity shortages at hospitals in any post-Thanksgiving spike in Covid-19 cases.
The "Disaster Emergency" executive order allows the New York State Department of Health to limit "non-essential, non-urgent" procedures in hospitals or health care systems with already limited capacity.
The order defines "limited capacity" as below 10 per cent staffed bed capacity, or at the discretion of the DOH "based on regional and health care utilization factors."
The order allows state agencies to step in to assist local municipalities if and when "the affected local governments are unable to respond adequately" to a variety of issues that may develop during the continuing pandemic.
"We've taken extraordinary action to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and combat this pandemic. However, we continue to see warning signs of spikes this upcoming winter, and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it's coming," Hochul said.
"The vaccine remains one of our greatest weapons in fighting the pandemic, and I encourage every New Yorker to get vaccinated, and get the booster if you're fully vaccinated."
The guv's powers emanate from executive law conceived for a situation that a disaster has occurred in New York State and the affected local governments are unable to respond adequately.
The powers have been used to declare a State disaster emergency for the entire State of New York through January 15, 2022.
The declaration, Hochul said, satisfies the requirements that allow the state to utilize the Surge and Flex system, which may include postponement of non-essential elective procedures.
Likewise, provisions in executive law, where the guv can suspend or modify any regulation binding any agency during a State disaster emergency, if the regulation is preventing action necessary to cope with the emergency.
Accordingly, Hochul has modified through December 26, 2021: Sections in the State Finance Law covering additional work, sites, funding, and time to State contracts or to award contracts for relocation and support of State operations under Public Buildings Law and contracts for professional services; or contracts for purchases of commodities, services, and technology. Purchase of necessary commodities, services, technology, and materials without following the standard notice and procurement processes. Likewise, purchase of food, supplies, services, and equipment or furnish centralized services to assist affected local governments, individuals, and other non-State entities in responding to the disaster emergency.