Governor Hochul: "We talked about this variant. We know it's coming. But here's the good news, we're not defenseless. Compared to a year ago we have so much at our disposal. Anyone over age five can get vaccinated. And if you're vaccinated, you can get the booster shot if you're over the age of 18, we are recommending highly that people wear masks indoors."
Hochul: "We are targeted but always have the tools to be able to deploy more widely if necessary. I know this is how we're going to come out of this with a stronger economic recovery, not to have shutdowns where shutdowns are not necessary, not to have unnecessary requirements where they're not needed, but making sure that any area that is showing vulnerabilities and we see a trajectory that is not good that we're deploying the resources intensely in a strategic way to make sure that we're doing everything that we have at our disposal and making sure that we leave no stone unturned in terms of protecting the health of New Yorkers."
Good afternoon, everyone. I understand technical corrections have been made so we're all set, sorry for the delay in getting started. I hope you all had a magnificent Thanksgiving holiday with your families. It was great to be able to gather in person. My family was fully vaccinated and fully boosted, so I felt very secure with them and it was great to see my father who I hadn't seen in a long time, from Florida.
We've officially begun the holiday season. We know what that looks like. It's an exciting time. It's a happy time, but it's a time of caution for us right now. People will be gathering more indoors, people are traveling, more people are seeing family members they haven't seen in a long time who may or may not be vaccinated.
So we'll be talking about some of those issues in a few minutes. But, right now I wanted to talk about the new variant, which has been dominating the news. We are watching this very closely out of South Africa, watching to see whether or not there is a case here in New York. I said on Friday I fully expected to arrive. We have notification that it has arrived in Ontario, which is literally across the bridge from where I live. I can see Canada from my house and Ontario is right there. And there's a bridge crossing that we want to bring our Canadian friends and they come in with restrictions. They are vaccinated in order to come here. So we hope that as we welcome our neighbors, that they will not be bringing any unwanted guests with them.
But we have to deal with the realities of a highly transmissible, we believe, variant, Omicron variant. And so I wanted to start with that and to let people know, first of all, we are fully monitoring this. We have ways to defend against this. We are not defenseless like we were one year ago and we all know exactly what has to happen. We know that it's an issue that we're grappling with right now.
The world is paying attention to this, so we're monitoring it globally. We're monitoring it here in New York State. I want to talk about an institution that does not get the recognition that it deserves, and that is our globally leading Wadsworth Lab. I went and visited Wadsworth Lab during the heat of the pandemic. These are the individuals who worked literally day and night round the clock, trying to be able to monitor the situation, but also more importantly, conduct the tests, travel, make sure that everyone had what they needed to get through the early days of the pandemic.
They are frontline workers who I want to applaud, 700 members of the Wadsworth family who work unbelievably hard and they're absolutely brilliant. We are so blessed to have the members of the Wadsworth family, part of the New York State family.