New York hospitals must increase their capacity by 50 percent — including new beds and rooms — to manage the influx of coronavirus patients, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.
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Cuomo is urging hospitals to set the goal of doubling their capacity overall.
There are now more than 20,000 positive coronavirus cases in New York as daily testing has greatly expanded over the last several weeks, with 5,000 tests conducted overnight.
The hospitalization rate is at 13 percent, or 2,635 patients, and there are 621 patients in intensive care units.
Cuomo has said New York needs to at least double its hospital capacity from 50,000 beds to more than 100,000 beds. ICU capacity will have to expand from 3,000 beds to as many as 37,000.
“Find more beds, find more rooms, you have to increase your capacity by 50 percent,” Cuomo said.
The state is seeking licensed retired health care workers to provide backup support. So far, 30,000 people have responded, Cuomo said.
Nurses who work for insurance companies are being ordered to provide support services to hospitals, Cuomo said.
The state, along with the federal government, are setting up temporary hospital sites at SUNY campuses on Long Island and convention centers in Westchester County and New York City.
New York is also sending hundreds of thousands of hospital supplies — masks, gowns and face guards — to hospitals around the state starting Monday, Cuomo said.
Cuomo also gently rebuked President Donald Trump for not invoking the Defense Production Act, which would have private industries begin to manufacture medical supplies. Trump has been hesitant to do so, but Cuomo has said it is essential.
For now, businesses have offered to manufacture the supplies, but on a voluntary basis.
“I get a lot of companies are stepping up and doing beautiful things, but you can’t run an operation that way,” Cuomo said.
Still, Cuomo made a point of thanking Trump for responding to the emergency request for hospitals, picking up the total cost of the response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and having the Food and Drug Administration approve the trial use of an experimental treatment using anti-malaria drugs.
“This is government working,” Cuomo said.
Monday is the first full day New York’s formal “pause” for non-essential workers is in effect.
The move, which has been adopted in other states, is keeping workers home and is in essence, shutting down the economy.
Cuomo acknowledged the disruption the pandemic and the response has caused. And he said the state must work on a “parallel” track for how to turn the economy back on again.
“You can’t stop the economy forever,” Cuomo said. “You turned off the engine yesterday, how do you restart the engine?”