New York declares ‘state of emergency’ as polio continues to spread

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The virus has also been detected in wastewater samples from neigboring Orange and Sullivan counties, as well as those from New York City. All of the reported samples include types of poliovirus that can cause paralysis, according to the state Department of Health.

Health officials noted that “for every one case of paralytic polio observed, there may be hundreds of other people infected,” but the state has so far only confirmed one case.

What they said: Health Commissioner Mary Bassett again urged all New Yorkers to ensure they’re up-to-date with polio vaccinations.

“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice … the risk of paralytic disease is real,” she said in a statement. “I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all. Polio immunization is safe and effective – protecting nearly all people against disease who receive the recommended doses.”

The executive order: Hochul’s emergency order immediately expands the network of providers who can administer polio vaccines to include emergency medical workers, midwives and pharmacists. It also authorizes physicians and certified nurse practitioners to issue non-patient specific standing orders for polio vaccines.

The order further requires health providers to send polio immunization data to the state Department of Health, a move which DOH said allows state and local health officials to focus vaccination activities in high-need areas.

The state of emergency is set to expire on Oct. 9. It comes in addition to emergency declarations Hochul has issued in response to the state’s monkeypox outbreak and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Background: The governor’s latest emergency declaration comes just two weeks after state health officials announced that poliovirus has been detected in wastewater samples from Sullivan County.

New York in July confirmed the nation’s first case of polio in nearly a decade. But federal health officials found the virus may have been spreading in the state since at least this spring as it tested wastewater for Covid spread.

The state Department of Health, CDC and local health authorities began investigating the spread of polio in New York on July 18 after a case involving a vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 was identified in stool specimens from an unvaccinated young adult from Rockland County.

New York health officials announced earlier this month that poliovirus had been detected in New York City wastewater samples.

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