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Hochul: New York monitoring new BA.5 COVID variant

The governor says the state has put together a comprehensive plan for the return of students to schools this fall, which includes distributing at-home tests.

ALBANY, N.Y. — After a long hiatus, a COVID-19 briefing was held Wednesday by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

She said the state is monitoring the new BA.5 variant which is spreading rapidly throughout the country.

Hochul also says the state has put together a comprehensive plan for the return of students to schools this fall. A big part of that plan includes distributing at home COVID-19 tests to all students and staff to test before the first day of school.

Hochul addressed mandatory mask usage among kids, which has been a hot topic for several years now.

"Right now, we are saying they don't [need to wear a mask]. Based on today's numbers, we don't anticipate the needs for masks in classrooms, but I'm going to reserve the right to return to this policy if the numbers change," Hochul said. "The circumstances changes, and the severity of the illnesses change. God forbid, there's a variant that affects kids more severely."

Another part of the state's fall plan is to continue vaccinations and boosters as well as testing.

As of right now the state has 20 million at home tests stockpiled and ready to be distributed.

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