Cuomo instating emergency measures for hospitals as COVID-19 cases mount

Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Photo courtesy of Governor’s office

With hospitalizations on the rise, Governor Andrew Cuomo rallied for resources for medical centers to increase capacity, considering lockdowns and suspending elective surgeries

The governor invoked Sun Tzu’s Art of War – as well as A.J. Parkinson – in a Monday press conference in making an announcement that outlined a plan going into the holiday season which health officials have warned could result in strain for medical staff.

“COVID is shifting the battlefield dramatically and we have entered a new phase, it came with the colder weather,” Cuomo said. “We now have a holiday surge on top of a fall surge.”

As such, yellow, orange, and red zones will not be established based on new indicators: hospitalization rate, death rate, case rate, available hospital beds, available ICU beds, available staff, PPE, and equipment availability.

The Northwell, Montefiore, and NYC Health and Hospitals systems will all begin sharing the workload from the surge already underway.

“Let’s just end elective surgeries now, and we’ll make it simpler. No patient wants to be in an overwhelmed facility because you’re getting less care, the staff is stretched thin. It’s in the patient’s best interest to distribute the patient load over the system. We’re not going to live through the nightmare of overwhelmed hospitals again,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to have a problem in the hospitals, I’m telling you right now.”

Courtesy of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.

According to Cuomo, 65% of all cases can be traced back to social gatherings in homes – limited to 10 people – leading to the decision to not impose more restrictions on indoor dining as they observe the spread taking place elsewhere.

Out of concern for staffing shortages, Cuomo is calling into action a strategy from the spring surge and mandating that hospitals compile a list of retired nurses and doctors who may be able to return to service in the coming weeks.

Cuomo added that he was more concerned that hospitals would run short on staff before they run short on beds, a seemingly different reality from expectations in the spring which indicated that capacity would be strained considerably.

Hospitals are currently required to have a 90-day supply of PPE which Cuomo believes will help avoid hospitals like Elmhurst in Queens from being inundated with patients and not enough simple provisions like masks. 

As of Monday, the total in hospitals with COVID-19 was 3,532 while the statewide infection rate is about 4.57%. There was a total of 54 deaths on Sunday, according to the governor’s office.