January 7, 2022
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos, & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress Combating COVID-19

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Video, Audio, Photos, & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress Combating COVID-19
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Governor Hochul: "There is an answer, it's simple. It's been allowed for weeks. It's safe. Thousands of children have been vaccinated safely. And those children, by and large, are not the ones in the hospital. So please let's protect our most vulnerable, our children. We love them. We cherish them. And this is one more way you can show your love by helping them stay out of the hospital, so they're not experiencing the trauma that is so unnecessary. That's my plea as a parent."

Announces 12 Million More Tests Ordered, 49 Million Total Tests Ordered Thus Far

6.18 Million Tests Delivered to Schools Statewide, Including More Than 3 Million Tests Delivered to NYC Schools

All Public and Charter Schools Equipped With Tests to Implement Test to Stay Next Week

In addition to the 6.1 million tests delivered to New York state schools this week and over the holiday weekend to battle the omicron variant and the winter surge, Governor Hochul announced the arrival of 1.5 million more tests to be distributed to schools outside of New York City in the upcoming week.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the event is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Governor Hochul: Thank you for joining us here this morning. And we will talk about the weather first. We have been getting large number of updates around the state. I was on the phone with the County Executive of Erie County, the Mayor of Buffalo, during their record - believe it or not, a record for January snow event with about 18 inches and actually had live reports from the First Gentleman of New York State who was driving around in the streets of Buffalo in search of breakfast.  

So in real time we're managing the snow situation. I do commend New Yorkers for how you've managed this. We're tough, we get through these things, but it doesn't happen without a large amount of help from our team. And I want to thank our team. Kathryn Garcia has been part of this, but she's excused because she's working on some other important matters. But Jackie Bray, commissioner of Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services can give us an update on what we've experienced, what we're doing, how positioned and ready we are and then we'll be hearing from Dr. Mary Bassett, our excellent person who leads the dream team over at the Department of Health. So I want to turn it over to our Commissioner of Homeland Security Emergency Services, Jackie Bray.  

Commissioner Bray: Thank you, governor. The office of Emergency Management has been busy tracking the significant weather events over the last few days. As the governor said, the lake effect system affecting Western New York on the North Country dropped about 18 inches of snow in Buffalo. Turns out that's the second largest snow in January and about 15 inches in Watertown. We've got a lake effect snow warning still in effect for Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties, that'll continue until 7:00 AM tomorrow morning. But roads are clear and everything's moving again. 

Overnight and into this morning, obviously we've had snow downstate. We've got over eight inches of snow in New York City, Suffolk, Nassau, and Westchester counties. There continues to be a winter storm warning in effect for Suffolk until noon today and a winter weather advisory in effect for Nassau, Westchester, and New York City also till noon. There are no MTA storm-related delays at this time. There are no LIRR storm-related delays at this time. There is a 15 minute delay on both the Hempstead and Montauk lines due to equipment issues. 

No storm-related delays for Metro North, although Metro North is running on a modified Saturday schedule for the Harlem-Hudson and New Haven lines. The roads are moving, although snowy. The state Department of Transportation has had about 1800 plows out over the course of both of these events, 51 tow plows and over 300 loaders. 

The Thruway has had an additional 348 plows, 11 tow plows, and 66 loaders working up and down the throughway. Both agencies, facilities, are continuing to operate 24/7, until we're fully through both of these events. We remain ready to assist all of our partners. We expect relatively mild weather this weekend, although it will be a little cold and we've got some precipitation on Sunday. And that's what we got ma'am. 

Governor Hochul: And that's from someone who used to work at the National Weather Service in Washington. So that is spoken with more authority than you can even imagine. So, thank you Commissioner.  

It has been a busy week for us. We started out with our State of the State where I was given the opportunity to lay out my vision and my priorities for New York. I feel very good about how that has been received by New Yorkers, who feel that it is a very thoughtful approach to guiding us through not just the pandemic, but also the post-pandemic world. And an important part of it was talking about some of the collateral damage of the pandemic. And that has been the impact on our healthcare workers. Which is why we still deem it one of our highest priorities to compensate them well, to encourage them to stay, but also increase that workforce by 20%.

So, at the same time as doing all that, we have been focused on the pandemic and I do look forward to a day when the big news of the day is the weather. We'll get there at some point. You do as well. So first of all, let's talk about the cases we've seen. 82,000 positive cases. We look at cases per 100,000 people. Now you may look at that trend and see that there is a slight peaking. It's not the straight up and down like an arrow as it was before. I want to be cautiously optimistic about what that means, but we're not going to make any pronouncements other than, that is a better trend line than we had been seeing up until now. So let's just state that. But every day that we can flatten that is going to be a good day.  

So, we're also hoping for a plateau, and we've had an enormous number of tests, record number of tests, [377,000] tests in one day. There was a time when that could have been a weekly total, not that long ago. And that is [377,000] tests in one day. And you've heard me describe what a military-style operation that was to get out test kits. And we'll talk some more about that, but again, statewide, our cases per 100,000, it's still a high number. It's still a very high number, but we'll give some more details on what that means to me. 

It's still 11- in our hospitalizations, which as you know, let's put this all in perspective, it's still a number that is very high, 11,548 people in the hospital for COVID. Statewide deaths continue to rise. 155 people we lost just yesterday, and our hearts and prayers go out to their family members. 

But let's talk about this hospital capacity number and what that really means. And you see the trends heading upwards, but this is usually a lagging indicator. This follows the upward trajectory we had in the number of cases and hospitalizations always lag behind.

So, if this correlates properly to our number of cases that hospitalizations should start seeing a plateau. It's the beginnings of a plateau, not declaring an official plateau, but plateauing from where it had been before. But as you can see this is not it, but let's talk more about that. I always want to give you a snapshot of exactly what's happening. 

And as you can see before Christmas, you know, we're really holding the line on overall hospitalizations - I mean 27,800 in the hospital before the holidays. We predicted a spike in cases, we got the spike in cases, as we predicted and talked about. Well, let's look at the hospitalizations - we're not that much higher. Maybe 700 more hospitalizations since December 21st, that's that 39% that we're talking about now is, but what I want to point out is 16% of 39 is the number of COVID cases in the hospital, people hospitalized for COVID.  

So, while the hospitalizations remain steady, which means we can handle the capacity, which has been our number one priority, make sure there's enough capacity. We're looking at the balance of people who are in the hospital for COVID versus non COVID reasons. And the number of people in the hospitals for COVID is still high. In fact, more than double what it had been just before the holidays. That's what we're looking at. So we still have hospitalizations increasing, but I always ask this question. This has troubled me. What do those numbers actually mean?  

I'm very inquisitive, and I have a sharp team that answers my questions. Who is being admitted for COVID purposes? That they're sick enough to have to be hospitalized for COVID, it's that severe. Versus people who present themselves to a hospital and are automatically tested, as a matter of routine now, which is good. They're tested positive for COVID, but they're in there for other reasons. Think of all the other reasons people end up at a hospital, you know, it's an overdose, it's a car accident, a heart attack. 

So I wanted to drill down into those numbers. I told you that on Monday, I would be looking at that. And literally the numbers are early, because I wanted to get the information out as soon as we got it. And I have two days' metrics right now, and looking at just the 4th of January, we realized that 39% of the people are hospitalized with non-COVID related reasons and checking in yesterday's number, that number was actually 42%.  

Now that is our statewide average, but it's important to also look at the variations in our different parts of the state. The most number of people admitted for non-COVID reasons as of just yesterday or a couple of days ago are in New York City. It's about 50/50, 50/50. So, half of the hospitalizations in New York City are someone who needs to be there because of the severity of their COVID situation and the other half are there for other reasons.   

Let's look at upstate, Central New York places like that where 79 percent are admitted due to real COVID. And if they're sick enough from COVID that they have to be hospitalized versus a 21 percent who happened to be there for another reason and test positive. So that's a very interesting snapshot of what's going on across the state and even Central New York. But what a variation we're seeing there between Central New York and the city.   

We also know that 37 percent of positive cases overall were asymptomatic. And that's something we're going to talk about right now. And I want to get a little more clarity on that and what that means to someone who's in the field, who's actually dealing with this day to day and put it in perspective. Again, I want people to understand this is still a pandemic. The number of cases and hospitalizations are still rising. But let's look in the context of someone who actually runs the hospital. So I'll be joined by Dr. Steven Corwin, the CEO of New York Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Corwin, thank you and tell us what's going on in real time, as you're monitoring this phenomenon of COVID versus non-COVID cases. And again, please give our gratitude to everyone in your whole healthcare ecosystem for the incredible work they've been doing for literally two years now. So, Dr. Steve Corwin.  

  

Dr. Steven Corwin: Thank you, Governor, thank you for your leadership. And yes, eight inches of snow downstate is a fair amount of snow. We currently have about 1,200 cases in our hospital system, very representative of most of the downstate hospitals. We're about 20 percent higher than we were last year at this time, but much less in the way of cases in our ICU's and much less in the way of cases requiring a ventilator, so we're very thankful for that. Of the cases in the hospital, as you mentioned, about 50 percent are admitted with COVID and 50 percent admitted for COVID. Of the patients in the hospital, 50 percent are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and 50% have two doses of the vaccine.  

Very, very rare to see somebody admitted who's had a booster. Thankfully, very little within the way of children being admitted, which we hope will continue and same percentage is 50 percent with COVID, 50 percent for COVID. The patients requiring the ICU's are older sicker and mainly unvaccinated.   

Staffing, as you know, has been tight. Thank you for all the support you're giving to the healthcare workers. But because Omicron appears to be less severe, our staff are coming back in increasing numbers and we've reached some degree of equilibrium there, which is very good. We've redeployed staff particularly in areas like transport, registration, and supply chain, believe it or not.  

And as you said, I can't thank our doctors, nurses, healthcare workers for going through this, yet again, but I'm cautiously optimistic that, as you noted, we think with our modeling that the peak will happen next week. We've also seen some leveling the past couple of days, fingers crossed, that that does represent a plateau.  

So, not an easy situation, but thank you for your leadership. And we feel we'll get through. And I speak for the downstate health systems, I think that we're working well together and we'll get through this together.     

Governor Hochul: Thank you, Dr. Corwin, and appreciate your analysis today in a bird's eye view of what's actually happening in our hospitals. So, thank you very much. Appreciate that.   

I did misspeak a moment ago. I am human. I think I said there's 37,000 [tests] we did out there. Anybody catch that? I just do that to see if you're paying attention. It's 377,000. So, I just wanted to correct the record if I've misspoken, if anybody caught that you get a gold star for today.  

You know, we talked about hospital capacity. You just heard from Dr. Corwin, what is hospital capacity all about? And you've heard me talk about this, but these are all the buckets, the buttons we can push. And so, as you know, we talked about elective procedures that is still an option available to us if we need to increase more capacity. We still have about 30-some hospitals where they've suspended elective surgeries to increase capacity.   

We've discharged more people because the reason we could have more discharges is that we stopped the log-jam that had been occurring in nursing homes, did not have enough staff for people to be discharged too, from hospitals. And how we did that was sending in the National Guard. We have deployed over 120 National Guard medics, extraordinary, and as I mentioned before, we'll have another batch of 80 individuals who are fully trained to be able to step in these roles in a matter of weeks. And we're going to keep ramping up so every National Guard member will have EMT training so we're prepared for whatever comes in the future.   

Transferring individuals, an important part to balance the load between hospitals systems within a region. And we're working with them as well on how you transfer. And this is another area where there's questions when you're on the ground, how are we getting a patient from one place to another. You stabilize them first, but we've also deployed, with the help of FEMA, and I was on the call with the White House, again, asking for more ambulances and teams. We have about 30 in state right now, 50 more coming, 25 of which arrive tomorrow. So, this is a cause of relief for these hospitals, especially when I was traveling up in the North Country where someone really sick in Potsdam may need to be transported all the way down to one of the major metropolitan areas, Rochester, Syracuse, for someone who's really sick, and they didn't have enough people to transport them. So, this was in response to my on the ground visits, where I found out that this was a real problem.  

Staffing, as you know, we're requesting more staff from FEMA, more are coming, and we need to also relieve stress on our emergency departments. Let me tell you what's going on in our emergency departments, and this is rather surprising as well. Right now, too many New Yorkers are going to emergency rooms to get a test. Just to get a test. We did 377,000 yesterday alone. We have capacity. We have 2,000 locations where people can get tested. So, please do not go to an emergency room and tie up the resources, those individuals, so you can get a test. And don't come in if you have very mild symptoms, either. I know you're anxious, I really understand this, but if you're an adult that very minor symptoms, you can handle a runny nose. You can handle your throat being a little bit sore, a little bit of cough. Just treat it as if you would have flu, follow the protocols, but please don't overburden our emergency rooms. They have so much work to do.   

So, we look at the numbers, look at the number of people in the emergency rooms who've gone there only for testing. Nearly 5,000 people in the last 24 hours. Do you realize what that is doing to our health care system? Look at the region. Finger Lakes, look what you're doing. Mohawk Valley, Central New York, these areas. What we're going to do is say we understand there's a problem when you think that's your only avenue, the easiest avenue, but please do not do that to our healthcare system. Stay home if you have mild symptoms, but look at the stress this is putting on the systems that cannot handle any more stress, to have people occupying space in emergency rooms. So, help us get the word out about this as well.  

What we're going to do in those situations, we are going to be deploying more test kits to the hospitals that have a problem. We know exactly where they are, we know where this is going on, and we'll redeploy staff and we'll be making some more announcements on that very soon. We're working on operationalizing that. This information just came to light and our immediate response is to turn it over to the experts here. Commissioner Bray is already figuring out how to get the test kits literally to the parking lots of some of these hospitals so that if they show up, people can get tested there and not tax the resources of our hospitals. Really important to get that word out.  

Vaccinations. Okay. Still not seeing what I want to see in children. 29 percent, you had the whole holiday to do it. Now we can get more kids back stated we've had the ability to do this, but the best news I've heard is that the CDC is now allowing 12 to 15 year olds to be eligible for a booster shot the Pfizer boosters. 

So this is our overall booster updates. You can see the areas of the State that have had more boosters. That's a high number and that's extraordinary and we're working very hard to get those numbers even better, but, get the shot after five months now, instead of six and that's important distinction, it had been six months. The CDC now said five months, you can do that. So we'll be launching some new guidance on exactly how we're going to do this here in the State of New York. But I wanted you to hear first that we'll be following that guidance. 

Also, we had a mandate that healthcare workers be vaccinated. It went into effect a few months ago, and it was an extraordinary accomplishment. I want to thank all the healthcare workers and their employers for getting us to do the right thing and getting people to understand that it's the best way to protect themselves and to protect the people they've cared for, their health, to make sure that you are vaccinated personally. And I believe that's why it's time and important to now add on a continuation of this effort, to protect people, to protect the workers, and to protect the integrity of our healthcare system, because they work with our most vulnerable New Yorkers. 

We need to make sure that our healthcare workers are now boosted, not just vaccinated, but they have to be boosted. So you would want to make sure that anyone taken care of you is fully protected, but also we've seen hospitals and healthcare facilities stressed, because people who maybe only have the vaccination, not boosted are having breakthroughs. And this is a phenomenon of Omicron. And now we know that this is the best way to deal with it. So it's a common sense way to keep people safe, and people should get the booster shot within two weeks of eligibility. Again, if someone just got boosted, in September, you know, you keep track of the dates on the very first day that you can get it, please do. We have the information on when you are eligible and we'll expand this to give you the two week period in order to get it done, but please do it as soon as you can. 

And I thank the ones who already did this, who, on their own initiative, but healthcare workers will be asked to do this with, with no exemptions other than a medical exemption and no test out options. So we're the first state in the nation to institute this, because this has been such an important priority. You've already seen what's been happening in our healthcare environment. Staff is getting sick. They're leaving. We need them to get well, we need them to have the best fortification they possibly can. And that means getting a booster shot as well. 

So, I've consulted Dr. Bassett on how we make this happen, and we want to make sure that hospital workers don't go to work if they're sick, get the booster. And I wanted to mention that Dr. Bassett has actually recommended this sites. We talked about at first, we had a conversation. Is this the right thing to do? We agreed together and she'll recommend this change to the Public Health and Health Planning Council. They're having a special meeting on Tuesday. Just so you know, any of these changes and regulations get approved by this independent body that has been there for a very long time, but we anticipate swift approval and it'll take effect immediately. 

And we'll keep New Yorkers posted on the developments of this. So we'll, again, we'll make sure that we are doing everything we can. All those levers, all those buttons, we can push. And this is one that we wanted to make sure to get those healthcare workers boosted. So, speaking of getting boosted, we talked about the vulnerability of people in nursing homes. We want to make sure that people are safe inside those homes. The workers, the visitors, and make sure that the patients, above all, are safe. So we want to make sure that we had numbers of people fully vaccinated shown to you right now. The nationwide average for people in nursing homes who are fully vaccinated, but also boosted average is about 60%. I made this a priority back at the end of November. I said, we have to get these people vaccinated and boost as soon as possible, got all the supplies up them, the resources told they needed to do this. And so, now we have 77% of nursing home individuals, their patients, who are vaccinated also boosted as well. And that's really important to us. And that number can still go higher. It needs to go higher, but we're working on that as well. 

And we did over 5,000 in the last month alone, 8,000 today, as we talk about people in nursing. We do not need a reminder of how excruciatingly painful it was to have the isolation last year when everything was shut down and people literally sat in their rooms, not understanding why their loved ones could not visit them. We understand this. We truly do. And that's why we support what CMS proposed, the head of Medicare, which is called CMS. I caught, made a phone call to them the other day. They put in a requirement, that there could be no restrictions whatsoever on visitors. Very broad, no restrictions. I explained from our point of view here in the State of New York, we understand people need to see visitors. They need to have that loved one, actually monitor what's going on and making sure they're getting the highest quality care, we support that. But the last thing we want to do is create a situation where visitors are coming in and now getting people that they love, or their neighbors, in the next room, sick from the pandemic. 

And we're starting to see an increase in cases in our nursing homes, as much as we've done to protect them with the vaccinations, the booster shots. So now we're going to be making sure that when visitors do come in, that they have to wear a better mask. They have to wear a surgical type mask and they have to have a negative COVID test within 24 hours. We prefer that they do it at home, bring the results, show us, or do it in the parking lot before going in, go ahead and show us that it's true, but also we will provide the tests. Again. A reason that I'm asking you to do it in advance is to not to overtax the workers in the nursing home. But, we'll make sure that every nursing home has the supply. They need to make sure that visitors are tested and not positive when they walk in the door to go possibly expose an entire facility. This will spread like wildfire. It is starting to in some places, and we're getting a real clear view of what's going on, but we believe that the visitors are a point of vulnerability for us, the workers, the patients getting vaccinated, that's great. 

Ideally, every visitor would be vaccinated and boosted, but we don't have the authority to create that restriction because of the CMS laws, which they enacted, the regulations they put in place. So here's what we're going to do. Ask people to have a higher quality, more protective mask, but also make sure that they have a negative test before they walk into the facility. Critically important. I mentioned testing, you know how many we have, can you talk about the 37 million, but that's not enough. That's not enough. We ordered another 12 million tests. We have 49 million tests ordered and we wanted to make sure, as we talked about schools opening this week, and what an amazing accomplishment it was, to get so many children in schools safely, all public and charter schools now have enough test available to them. Again, a major operation to get them deployed and out there, but now they have to be able to implement the test-to-stay program, which we think is so important. And more are on the way. 

So we'll keep announcing, how many of those are coming, we've ordered more. 12 million have arrived. We're receiving three to five million tests per week. Huge push. And again, New York City has now had 3 million test kits from us, tests, I should say. And we've had 3.3 million, 3.1 million distributed outside the state. So that's why it's important that Mayor Adams and I spoke about this yesterday, how important it was to have this teamwork approach to making sure that we support each other. And one of them was making sure that the City of New York had enough test kits. So parents felt safe with their children heading into schools. 

And the next round of tests will be nursing homes. More tests are almost nearly a million tests arriving there. 1.2 million masks have being delivered and also our 400,000 new tests are being delivered to residents in direct care settings, as well as 60,000 for visitor screening for prisons as well. 

But let's find more sites. We have test kits. They're going to specific places, but where else can we add more testing? We already have existing sites at the MTA: Times Square, Grand Central, Penn Station, Broadway Junction in Brooklyn, East 188th in the Bronx, Roosevelt Avenue, Jamaica, but also let's add a few more, 125th Street in Manhattan, Bedford Park, Coney Island, and Queens Plaza. 

So we'll now have 11 in total and those are going very well and I want to thank the MTA staff and everybody who's making this work so well. It's easy, no excuses, take it right there. And again, this is another reminder, come back on the subway, it's safe, it's good. You can even get a test there, that's an added addition. So please come back on our subway system. And they ran very well during a snow storm, so that's even a more impressive. 

As I mentioned, we thought we could also expand our operations for testing to utilize the sites where students have been tested during this calendar year, the school year. And now, while they're on break, let's use those sites as well. So we have current sites at Oswego, Binghamton, and Plattsburgh, Cortland, Buffalo, Buff State, SUNY Oneonta, Albany, Stony Brook, and Purchase. So we'll be adding many, many more, so we're excited about that as well. New ones, I'm sorry, those are the existing ones. Geneseo, New Paltz, Potsdam, Fredonia, Brockport, Farmingdale, Morrisville, Canton, Cobleskill and SUNY Polytechnic. So I think we're covering just about every one of them. I just said, this is a resource to us. Why aren't we taking advantage of this? And so the team made my wishes happen. So thank you.  

But there's another issue I want to talk about, which is really important, you're seeing in the news more, which is pediatric cases. We've seen a rise during this winter surge. I spoke about this on Christmas Eve, a day that Dr. Bassett and her team took some strong action on this and made sure that we were keeping an eye on this, but I'd like to turn it over to her to talk about this, because this is an area of anxiety. We want to make sure people have a clear picture, have all the data that we have available to us in assessing the situation when it comes to children and COVID. So Dr. Bassett, if you could talk to us about what you're seeing, I'd appreciate it.  

Dr. Bassett: Thanks very much Governor. And, let me start out by saying that the health department will be releasing a comprehensive report. I'm going to show you a lot of data and try and highlight the top lines of these data, but I urge people to look at the report, which will be released today and should be posted after this press conference.  

This slide here shows the pediatric cases have shown the same pattern of escalation that we've seen with Omicron in general. But this is what is making us concerned, that the rate of increase among children is going up faster than it is among adults. As you can see on this slide, among children who are under five and are too little to get vaccinated, no vaccine is approved for this age group, it's gone up nearly eight fold, and in older teens, 12 to 16 year olds, maybe that's 18 - I apologize, I can't really read the slide, I think it's 12 to 18 year olds - has gone up tenfold.  

So this is faster than in adults who've gone up between around about two to two and a half fold. And although the numbers of children affected are fairly small, when we first reported on this and our alert on December 25th, we were talking about about 150 children who had been admitted, and we're now up to 570-some children admitted in the most recent week, which this report is based.    

So those are much smaller numbers than we're seeing for adult admissions, but 70% of these children are showing COVID-related symptoms, and if I can just ask you to look at the last column, which are the statewide numbers, again you can see the numbers at the beginning of the month, they were 85 children admitted in that first week, and we're now up to 571. So it's the rate of increase more than the numbers that have made us very concerned about these children. Just as we've talked about in the earlier part of our discussion this morning, many of these children are admitted with COVID, not for COVID, and this [inaudible] gives a listing of the types of other conditions that children are coming in with who've tested positive for COVID.  

But this is the most important thing that I want to show you this morning, that the vast majority of children who are hospitalized are unvaccinated. And again, the goal is to stress that it's important to get your child vaccinated, it's important, if they're eligible, to get them boosted. And we now have boosters approved by the CDC for children who are 12 and older. Vaccinations for 12 to 15 year olds were approved in November. So we have children coming up, in that age group, who are eligible for boosting.  

Look at that over 90% of the very young group, five to 11 year olds have not been vaccinated, that needs to change. And it reflects the general population in which about 20% in this age group has been vaccinated fully. So again, the emphasis here is that we have to use more effectively the tool for vaccination and children. Thank you, Governor. 

Governor Hochul: Thank you, Dr. Bassett. And certainly we can provide those graphs to the members of the public and put that online. And you're issuing your report today. Very important reminder, that those children who are hospitalized do not have to be scared, frightened, lying in a hospital bed. They do not have to be there. 

There is an answer, it's simple. It's been allowed for weeks. It's safe. Thousands of children have been vaccinated safely. And those children, by and large, are not the ones in the hospital. So please let's protect our most vulnerable, our children. We love them. We cherish them. And this is one more way you can show your love by helping them stay out of the hospital, so they're not experiencing the trauma that is so unnecessary. That's my plea as a parent. What else can we say? What else can we say? We just really hope that people look at the data now. If you've not been convinced of the difference between children who are vaccinated and unvaccinated, I think you saw a very crystal clear picture from Dr. Bassett.  

And those are not related to being in school. The children just went to school. This would have occurred, exposure to all those holiday gatherings, where they saw older siblings and maybe cousins home from college and all this, they were in this Petri dish of the holidays and these kids, because they were not vaccinated, were exposed, and they're vulnerable and now we're seeing them hospitalized.  

So it's not too late to take action. We have plenty of vaccinations available. I would love nothing more than to see those vaccination numbers go up. And so Dr. Bassett, thank you again for your effort on this.  

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