'We know it's coming': Hochul and Biden urge vaccinations, boosters to fight omicron variant

Gov. Kathy Hochul laid out a battle plan Monday against a potential surge of the new COVID-19 variant.
The omicron variant has not yet been detected in the United States but the governor says it's headed here.
"We talked about this variant, we know it's coming," Hochul says. "But here's the good news, we're not defenseless."
President Joe Biden made similar pledges when he spoke to the country early Monday.
"Sooner or later we're going to see cases of this new variant here in the United States," Biden says.
The strain has been causing alarm across the world because it has a number of mutations on the spike protein, which could make vaccines and natural immunity less effective against it.
Hochul says that and holiday gatherings are going to cause a surge in infections.
The governor says her main concern is hospital capacity.
Hochul is calling on the National Guard to work at nursing homes so more hospital patients can be transferred to long-term facilities.
An executive order signed Friday also limits non-essential procedures at hospitals that have fewer available beds. Most of those facilities are upstate.
Hochul says there are probably 32 to 36 hospitals that fall into that category of having 10% or less bed capacity.
The governor is urging people to get vaccinated or to get their booster.
Approximately 363,000 Long Islanders have received boosters, but Hochul says they will be opening more mass vaccinations sites to increase those numbers.
"What I want to make sure happens is everybody who's had one dose gets that second dose because you're not fully protected without the second dose," Hochul says. "We are sending text messages, we're aggressively going after everybody saying come on, get the second dose and then plan for your booster six months from then, as well."
Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an infectious disease specialist of Northwell Health, is also urging people to get boosters because it will likely provide at least some protection.
"Even if these vaccines are not perfect against omicron, being able to take advantage of the enhancement of the immune response that occurs after boosting is going to be a positive impact," Hirsch says. "And we need to do that now.”
Hochul has also strongly recommended people wear masks at indoor public places, but she has not put a mandate in place.