New York Gov. Kathy Hochul Ends State’s COVID Emergency

By Hannah Ng
Hannah Ng
Hannah Ng
Reporter
Hannah Ng is a reporter covering U.S. and China news. She holds a master's degree in international and development economics from the University of Applied Science Berlin.
September 14, 2022 Updated: September 14, 2022

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced she will not renew the state’s COVID emergency that expired at midnight on Tuesday, Sept. 13 amid mounting criticisms of abuse of power.

Her announcement was made Monday following a continuous drop in cases and with her election race just weeks ahead.

“I will not be renewing them this time, we’re watching the numbers right now. We’re feeling comfortable that we can suspend them,” Hochul said in Manhattan.

“We’re in a different place now,” the governor added, referring to the state’s lifting of the mask mandate for public transportation on Sept. 10.

“We have a new booster shot as of a few days ago,” she added.

The governor had extended the state of emergency twice with executive orders since she replaced then Gov. Andrew Cuomo late last year.

The declaration allowed the state to ease its regular purchasing and vendor bidding procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also helped to secure COVID testing kits and to send tests to laboratories out of state, according to Hochul.

Abuse of Power

Republicans have decried Hochul’s prolonged renewal of the emergency state as an abuse of power.

State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said in a statement following her latest move: “For too long, Gov. Hochul took advantage of her self-imposed authority and the lack of oversight and review typically required by state law.”

Barclay further urged for ending all pandemic-related mandates.

“Allowing the expiration of this ‘state of emergency’ is merely step one—now, all pandemic-related mandates must come to an end,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Houchul’s main contender in the governor’s race, argued that her decision to terminate such powers was long overdue.

“This should have happened a VERY long time ago,” Zeldin wrote on Twitter.

He further pointed to the allegations that Hochul signed off on a $600 million contract for at-home COVID tests with Digital Gadgets while the company CEO contributed more than $300,000 to her campaign. The account was covered by The Times Union on Sept. 8. According to the news outlet, the company’s offered price nearly doubled those of its competitors.

“With this power, she suspended NY’s competitive bidding laws & awarded an overpriced $600M+ COVID testing contract to one of her top donors,” Zeldin stated.

Meanwhile, Barclay joined with other Republicans in asking for a public hearing on the questionable contract.

“Joining my Republican colleagues to call for a public hearing to address the wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars under the COVID-19 emergency,” he wrote.

Hochul has repeatedly dismissed the narrative that her campaign donors affected her decision on budget spending.

“I knew in order to get children back to school in late December, early January, I had to amass a large number of test kits and vaccine sites,” Hochul said Monday. “All those powers were necessary at the time.”

Hannah Ng
Reporter
Hannah Ng is a reporter covering U.S. and China news. She holds a master's degree in international and development economics from the University of Applied Science Berlin.