New York governor declares disaster emergency after polio discovered in wastewater
Following the discovery of the virus in wastewater samples obtained in four counties, New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a disaster emergency on Friday, September 9, in an effort to hasten the process of immunising residents against polio.
Hochul's executive order came after the virus was found in samples from Nassau County, on Long Island, which borders the borough of Queens in New York City, last month. The virus was discovered in samples earlier this year from counties north of the city, including Sullivan, Orange, and Rockland.
According to the state health department, an adult in Rockland County contracted polio in July, marking the country's first verified case in in a decade.
In some cases, polio can result in irreversible paralysis, but it is preventable thanks to a 1955 vaccine. Despite the fact that there is no known treatment, the vaccination offers nearly 100% immunity after three shots.
Although all ages are at risk, children three and younger are the most commonly affected by the virus.
Officials recommended lifetime booster shots for those who had already received the vaccine, as well as for adults who had not received the shot and children as young as two months old.
In order to increase immunisation rates, Hochul's statement grants permission for paramedics, midwives, and pharmacists to deliver polio shots. Additionally, the decree instructs healthcare professionals to supply the state with updated immunisation data.
The emergency situation will last until October 9. The vaccination rate for inhabitants was set at 90% by health officials.
State health officials issued a warning that residents of New York City, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, and Nassau counties are most at risk.
Among the counties of concern, Orange County has the lowest vaccination rate, with fewer than 59% of the population having received their shots, according to the state health department.