New York (CBSNew York) – Leaders in the state and city of New York are taking action to prepare for the Omicron edition.
Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted Monday, “It’s not a question of if it comes to New York, but when.”
Read more: New Jersey officials are monitoring the Omicron version, but say Delta is still a concern as travel increases
“Omicron is right across the bridge in Ontario. The question is not whether it comes to New York, but when,” posted the governor. “To all who have not yet been vaccinated, and especially Western In New York: There’s no reason to wait. Get vaccinated.”
During his afternoon press briefing, Hochul said that the state is monitoring the situation across the world.
“We are not defenseless like we were a year ago,” she said.
She urged New Yorkers to get vaccinated and then get their booster shots.
Omicron is right across the bridge in Ontario. It’s not a question of whether it’s a New York thing, but when.
For all those who haven’t been vaccinated yet, and especially those in western New York: There’s no reason to wait. Get vaccinated https://t.co/U004upgdHD
— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) November 29, 2021
Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed the governor, saying that while there are no cases in the city, the version could come in the coming days.
“Our health leadership is in constant contact with federal officials and state officials, everyone sharing information,” he said. “We’re going to fight Omicron and, most immediately, continue to fight Delta Edition. That’s really the challenge we’re dealing with here and now.”
WATCH: CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez discusses the Omicron version
Health Commissioner Dr. Chokshi issued a mask advisory on Monday, “strongly recommending” New Yorkers to wear masks at all times in public places. He said this includes people who have been vaccinated or who already had COVID.
“Like in building your grocery store, lobby, office and retail store,” he said.
New Yorkers are taking the latest COVID concerns seriously.
“We have so many variants that go through so many times, it’s hard to know which ones are really really scary,” said Sunnah Rashid of East Williamsburg.
When asked if she’s worried about it, Julie Marriott said, “No, because there are worse things in the world.”
As for face coverings, “I think it is okay to wear a mask in a public place, shopping mall, grocery store. I do it anyway, so I’m going to keep doing it,” said West Side’s Kimberly Metzger.
“It’s a free country, so everyone should have a choice, right?” Lindsey Metzger said.
“I personally think we should still wear masks inside,” said another woman.
Dr Chokshi encouraged people to get tested especially after holiday travel and gatherings.
Read more: Biden says Omicron variant ’cause for concern, not for panic’
Mayor-elect Eric Adams joins the mayor and health commissioner for Monday’s briefing.
“I believe we are sending a clear message to New Yorkers that vaccines are our most powerful weapon,” he said. “But our coordination is close to that, and we’re going to have that coordination.”
Watch: Mayor de Blasio’s Daily Briefing on the New ‘Omicron’ Variant
It comes as countries around the world are rushing to prepare, and health experts are learning more about the new version. Dr. Anthony Fauci says it has some degree of mutation and appears to be highly transmissible.
“The things we don’t know right now are whether the people who get infected have severe disease or it’s a mild disease, or somewhat similar to Delta,” he said.
He said that it will take about two weeks to get this under control properly. However, vaccines seem to provide some degree of protection.
While an immediate lockdown will be unlikely, some travel restrictions are now in place. The US released one for eight countries in southern Africa, where Omicron was first detected.
Dr. Fauci believes this will buy scientists some time.
“The reason for your travel ban isn’t that you naively think you’re going to put it out there, but it buys you a couple of weeks,” he said.
While many people have had the most normal Thanksgiving since 2019, some fear more travel restrictions are on the horizon as we head into the holidays.
Lucky for the Ortez family of Queens, they were reunited with their 88-year-old father from Chile after more than two years.
“It’s tough, it’s tough, especially when you put your loved ones elsewhere,” said Far Rockaway’s Monica Ortez.
De Blasio said he believes there should be a vaccine mandate for all travelers.
When it comes to the mask advisory, he said it is not a mandate, as he would focus efforts on increasing the city’s vaccination rate. Right now, 88% of adults have received at least one dose.
The mayor also announced a new vaccine mandate for childcare and early intervention workers. The December 20 deadline is expected to affect 102,000 workers.
More news: Omicron version: First North American case found in Ontario
CBS2’s Dick Brennan and John Dias contributed to this report.