New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a “state disaster emergency” Friday after poliovirus was detected in wastewater from a fourth county, indicating that the dangerous virus continues to spread, potentially in areas with abysmal vaccination rates.
Today’s emergency declaration aims to boost access to polio vaccines in the state, allowing more types of health care providers to authorize and administer polio vaccines. It also makes it a requirement for health care providers to report vaccination data to the state, allowing health officials to better identify vulnerable areas.
The emergency stretches back to July when officials reported paralytic polio in an unvaccinated adult in Rockland County whose symptoms began in June. As of September 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected poliovirus in 57 wastewater samples from four counties (Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, and newcomer Nassau) and New York City, with the earliest detection in April from Orange County.