NEW YORK, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Wednesday morning, Gov. Kathy Hochul held a briefing on the current state of COVID-19 in New York.

Right now, the dominant strain of COVID-19 is called BA.5. Health officials are urging anyone who’s at least 50 and hasn’t been vaccinated in the year 2022 to get vaccinated as soon as they can. Right now, the only groups who are able to get a second booster are those who are 50+ or at least 12 years old with a weakened immune system.

According to Gov. Hochul, 99 percent of state residents live within a drivable distance to a vaccine provider.

This past winter, New York saw a spike in cases, but numbers have since decreased and remained steadily low. Right now, the state is preparing for this Fall and Winter.

The start of the next school year is a concern for state officials. More than 3 million test kits are currently being sent to schools across New York so that students and staff can get tested for COVID-19 before the school year begins. As omicron took hold of New York this past winter, New York procured more than 100 million test kits. Gov. Hochul says more than 20 million at-home tests have been stockpiled.

During Wednesday’s conference, the Governor announced that the state is now requesting proposals for pandemic after-action review plans. The state is looking to establish definitive answers on how to handle a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic in the future, if something like this were to happen again, or another emergency of similar severity.

New York is looking to create plans for things like determining which businesses are deemed “essential,” which hospital procedures should continue during a pandemic and the opening and closing of schools, among other topics. The review will be overseen by Jackie Bray, the Commissioner for the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

At the start of the conference, Gov. Hochul and New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett also addressed monkeypox. In Erie County, two cases have been identified, while three have been found in Monroe County. More than 600 cases have been found in New York City.

Monkeypox has been seen in “virtually every state,” Dr. Bassett said. According to the CDC, it’s been identified in 70 countries, as of Wednesday. No other cases of monkeypox have been identified in western New York.

Along with that, Hochul briefly spoke on the current heat wave affecting the northeast. Right now, much of western New York is under a heat advisory, which is set to expire at 8 p.m.

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