STATEN ISLAND, NY – At a press briefing Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York is entering a new phase “in the war on COVID” and announced that an expanded system for determining areas of micro- clusters would be part of the state’s strategies to tackle the growing spread of the coronavirus.
Citing the growing number of people hospitalized statewide for treatment for COVID-19, Cuomo said “hospital capacity is now the number one concern.”
“We’re going to have a problem with the hospitals, I’m telling you now,” Cuomo said. “We will manage it.”
As a reflection of this new direction, the governor said that a number of factors related to the hospital’s response to COVID-19 in a geographic area will be added to measures of test positivity and case rate. which were at the heart of determining the red, orange and yellow zone designations. , each with state-imposed restrictions.
Factors identified by Cuomo at the press conference include case rate, death rate, hospitalization rate, available hospital beds, intensive care beds, hospital staff, “patient load.” »Effective and availability of PPE.
It was not immediately clear how the governor’s new factors for the zone designation will impact Staten Island, which is currently halved, with the North Shore designated as a yellow zone and the South Shore orange.
When asked if he thinks the new factors will mean more or less areas designated by color statewide, Cuomo said the areas will be “different,” and now is the time to expand. measures so that the case rate is not the primary focus when determining zoned areas.
“Our positivity rate will all be exceeded in a matter of time,” he said, calling the thresholds set in the micro-cluster strategy “artificially low,” compared to other states across the country. .
“So at some point you have to recognize reality,” Cuomo continued. “The cases will increase. I want to make sure that our number one priority is the capacity of the hospitals. This will therefore be added, in terms of prioritization. “
Despite Cuomo’s dire warnings about hospital capacity statewide, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the briefing and said the hospital situation in the city has been manageable so far this fall.
“I want to give a note of hope that I think our healthcare system here in New York is holding up,” de Blasio said.
Hospital capacity has been an issue in Staten Island, as COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the two borough systems have grown rapidly in recent weeks to more than 150 patients, leading to the reopening of the emergency field hospital on the grounds of the South Beach Psychiatric Center.
EMERGENCY HOSPITAL PROCEDURES
Cuomo said an “emergency shutdown provision” is in place if there is a critical hospital situation, which could range from another NY PAUSE type order to a rapid change in the area designation. .
He also described emergency hospital procedures the state will pursue if hospitals start to reach capacity.
The elements include:
- Address the staff shortage by identifying retired nurses and doctors.
- Stop elective surgery.
- Balancing the load of the individual hospital system – a state mandate that hospital systems, like Northwell, move patients from overburdened hospital systems to those with capacity.
- Prepare emergency field hospitals.
- Mandated hospitals add 50% bed capacity.
- Prepare for the statewide implementation of ‘surge and flex’, which moves patients between systems.
- Preparation for field hospital staff.
- Confirmation of PPE stock.