New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Wednesday that she and state health officials are dealing with ongoing outbreaks of two diseases, COVID-19 and monkeypox.
She also said the state is launching two programs to better respond to future health crises.
Hochul is stepping up its efforts against monkeypox with a new supply of vaccines and intensified education efforts. With more than 1,600 cases of the virus, New York has seen a quarter of all cases in the United States. The disease rarely results in death or hospitalization, but it does cause fever and painful lesions that can leave permanent scars.
The governor said an executive order she signed Friday night will allow paramedics, pharmacists and other medical professionals to administer the 110,000 new doses of monkeypox vaccine that New York will receive from the federal government over the course of the next few weeks.
“We are facing this outbreak with the urgency it requires,” Hochul said. “Trying to protect communities and spread vaccines.”
Hochul said the state is also preparing for a potential new wave of COVID-19 cases when the weather turns cold in a few months and people spend more time indoors. She said authorities were stockpiling rapid tests for schools, along with additional personal protective equipment.
The governor also announced two new programs funded in the state budget as part of a multi-year, $10 billion effort to increase the state’s health care workforce by 20 percent over the next five years and address what have become chronic shortages.
“It’s not just a crisis for these workers,” Hochul said. “This is a crisis for all of us who also really need this health care.”
A new scholarship program will help ease the nursing shortage by providing 1,000 new nursing students with free tuition at public colleges and universities across the state and New York City. The state has more than 9,300 registered nurse openings.
Tanaya England, a social worker with the New York Children’s Services Administration and a mother of two, said the program would help her achieve her long-held aspiration to become a nurse.
“A scholarship will not only help me pursue a career in nursing and achieve my dreams. It is also a step forward in providing for my family,” England said.
The governor also launched a $1.3 billion program to pay recruiting and retention bonuses to all health care workers in the state who earn less than $125,000 a year. The money averages around $3,000 per worker.
The plan is backed by major state hospital lobby groups and the healthcare worker union SEIU 1199. In late July, the union backed Hochul in his bid for a full term as governor.