Gov. Hochul Declares 'State of Emergency' on Polio Spread
By Yehudit Garmaise
After the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found poliovirus samples in the wastewater of five counties statewide, Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state disaster emergency, which will authorize EMS workers, midwives, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and more physicians to administer polio vaccines.
Before finding evidence that polio was circulating in the wastewater of Nassau County, the CDC had found the poliovirus in Rockland County, Orange County, Sullivan County, and New York City.
The CDC believes it has amassed evidence that the poliovirus is spreading after genetically linking a sample of poliovirus that was found in wastewater in Nassau County to the 20-year-old male patient who was infected with polio in Rockland County, said state health officials.
In addition to increasing the number of healthcare workers who can administer the polio vaccine, Gov. Hochul’s declaration of a state of emergency also requires healthcare providers to provide the state health department with polio immunization data to focus vaccination efforts where they are most needed.
“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” said NY Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett, who emphasized that those who are unvaccinated for polio are at risk of paralysis. “Do not wait to vaccinate.”