Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered all hospitals to increase their bed capacity by 25% on Monday, as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase once again across the state.
"Every night, we get an inventory from every hospital doctor,” the governor explained during a press conference in New York City. “How many patients do you have, what capacity do you have?"
This sort of “flex management system” for hospitals, which allowed for hospitals to increase bed capacity by canceling elective surgeries and moving certain patients, was first implemented in the spring and Cuomo says this is now starting back up again this week.
"We are aware of staff resources; staff come into this stressed," he said.
Because of this, Cuomo says the state is calling for all able nurse and doctor retirees to return to service.
New York State will automatically renew registrations without cost.
Also in five days, if the hospitalization rate is not stabilized, then indoor dining will be lowered to 25% capacity outside of New York City and shut down completely in New York City.
Cuomo pointed to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that identified indoor dining as a “high risk activity.”
On top of this, if a region’s hospital capacity shows signs of reaching 90% capacity within three weeks, then the whole region will go on “PAUSE.”
"We will manage the hospital system as best we can. But if we overwhelm the hospital system, we will have no choice but to go to close down,” Cuomo explained. "There are no options, that's not discretionary ... you can't overwhelm the hospital system ... then people die unnecessarily."
Indoor dining in “red” and “orange” zones would continue to be prohibited.
If in 5 day, the hospitalization rate is not stabilized, Cuomo says the state will most likely give restaurants until Monday to switch to these new indoor capacity limits. This will be decided at the end of the week.
Dr. Anthony Fauci joined Cuomo for his press conference virtually, and said he agreed with the governor’s plan.
Dr. Fauci reminded people that the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations will most likely not be seen until Hanukkah or Christmas, creating “a surge upon a surge,” if people are not careful during the holidays.
“Middle of January could be a really dark time for us,” Dr. Fauce said that the 10-person cap to in-person gatherings might even be too many.
He also made the case that bars and restaurants should be subsidized so they can close, while the state works to keep schools open that have so far shown to have a lower test positivity rate.
New York’s statewide positive COVID-19 infection rate was 4.79% on Sunday. Hospitalizations increased by 160 people yesterday, bringing the total to 4,602 hospitalizations. Eighty New Yorkers died from COVID-19 yesterday.