Credit: Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New Yorkers in upstate communities seeing upticks in COVID-19 cases could again face more pandemic restrictions if infection rates fail to drop, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Tuesday.

The Democrat later tweeted a note of optimism: saying she’ll direct the state health commissioner to relax rules like masks in schools if New York gets “through the holidays without a spike.”

Hochul didn’t outline any specific COVID-19 protocols she could put back in place, or how she would define a decline or spike in COVID-19 rates.

But she said she’s troubled by vaccine holdouts and signs of rising COVID-19 cases in parts of western and central New York.

“At some point if the numbers don’t start on a downward trend, we’re going to have to talk about larger protocols,” Hochul said. “I truly hope the community at large will listen to this because it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Hospitals across New York reported 2,051 patients with confirmed COVID-19 as of Monday, up 9% from 1,878 as of the previous Monday.

Hospitalizations have plateaued statewide since late August.

But hospitalizations are rising in Western New York and the Finger Lakes region.

And the rates of new COVID-19 positives per capita is higher in less-vaccinated rural counties along the border with Pennsylvania: just 40% of residents in Allegany County are fully vaccinated, for example.

The governor said anyone who feels they’re at high risk of getting COVID-19 should get a booster shot.

“This area is a high-transmission area,” Hochul said, speaking in Buffalo on Tuesday. She added: “Anyone who personally feels that risk should get the booster.”

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