NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governor Kathy Hochul provided an update Wednesday on efforts to keep New Yorkers healthy during the winter months.
The governor was joined by pediatric expert Dr. Sallie Permar as well as outgoing Health Commissioner Mary Bassett to detail how the state is working to keep residents safe.
Hochul's briefing comes amid concern about the impact of a possible 'tripledemic,' as cases of RSV, influenza and COVID-19 rise across the state.
The combination is already stressing the medical system, especially children's hospitals, which have seen an increase in RSV cases.
"These three viruses are all making it very difficult for us to practice routine medicine, because we're so busy taking care of those patients," said Infection Disease Chief Dr. Aaron Glatt.
In the general population, and for the first time since the pandemic, flu-related hospitalizations now surpass COVID hospitalizations.
The state has seen a 75% increase in positive flu cases since the beginning of the flu season started eight weeks ago.
"These numbers are spiking way too early compared to historical trends. And we have 27,000 positive cases right now," Hochul said.
Flex staffing will remain in place at hospitals to stay prepared in case there is crowding due to RSV, flu and coronavirus cases. Hospital bed capacity will continue to be monitored.
The state has a stockpile of ventilators and coronavirus test kits ready to be deployed if needed.
And only 13% of New Yorkers over the age of 5 have received a coronavirus booster, Hochul said.
Authorities are reporting higher transmission rates than in recent months for COVID in the Tri-State area.
"We feel good about where we are, but we aren't taking anything for granted," Hochul said, recalling the sudden spike in COVID cases last winter due to the omicron variant.
Bassett said COVID transmission in some parts of the state, like Long Island, are now at levels where CDC is recommending mask-wearing.
But she stopped short of recommending "legislating behavior."
"Now at South Nassau, the hospital is full, we have no beds right now, we're surged with flu, we're surged with COVID," said Dr. Adhi Sharma with Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital. "We don't talk about this a lot, but flu kills between 30 to 50,000 Americans every year, that's a lot of Americans lost to the flu, so we would like to see people vaccinated."
The governor said the state is ready for whatever the winter brings, citing the following tools on hand:
-Coordination with local officials to monitor facility capacity, stay ahead of case spikes and support hospitals
-Equipment such as ventilators and PPE stockpiled and ready to go
-Enough COVID vaccines and boosters for everyone
-Retaining flexibility to address staffing needs
For more on related medical concerns, including the availability of medications and vaccines, watch Tuesday evening's edition of 'The Countdown.'
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