ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — With a new COVID variant detected and Monkeypox on the rise, Governor Kathy Hochul continues to hold onto those emergency powers. “I know New Yorkers expect us to take care of them and their health,” said Governor Kathy Hochul at a press conference on Wednesday.

Since the pandemic there has been a consistent uptick in COVID-19 infection rates during the fall and winter seasons. Governor Hochul says that’s what she’s preparing for. According to White House COVID Response Coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, about 70-80% of new cases are the BA5, Omicron variant.

“The reason it has us concerned is that it’s incredibly immune based. People who were infected three months ago we’re seeing high levels of re-infections, people who have not been boosted for a while that haven’t gotten a vaccine shot in a while, we’re seeing a lot of breakthrough infections,” he said.  Jha says vaccines work against BA5 and offer a high degree of protection. He urges those 50 and older, who have not received the vaccine this year, to do so.

And when it comes to Monkeypox cases, the CDC has reported over 2100 cases nationwide with 679 of those in New York. Most of those cases are downstate  and one was confirmed yesterday in Albany county. “We’re seeing Monkeypox ongoing transmission in countries where it has not previously been seen, second, the clinical presentation is not classical, it’s not what you’ll see if you Google Monkeypox, and overwhelmingly, the people who’ve been diagnosed are people who identify as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with other men,” said NYS Health Commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett.

She adds that while Monkeypox is rarely fatal, it’s extremely painful due to lesions and scarring. Those who have the virus will experience flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes or a rash which lasts two to four weeks. The virus can only be tested once the rash emerges, when it can be swabbed.

Dr. Jha says there are about 65,000 Monkeypox vaccines allocated to New York. We can expect more within the next two weeks.