Thirty-seven hospitals in New York state are facing a capacity crunch as of late last week amid a rise in COVID-19 cases, according to data from the state Department of Health released Tuesday.
The hospitals at strained capacity are primarily concentrated in upstate and western New York counties where COVID positive cases have been spiking over the last several weeks. Two New York City hospitals, Long Island Jewish Forest Hills and Queens Hospital Center, both in Queens, were on the state's list.
State health officials emphasized that the list could change.
These hospitals are at 10% capacity or less as of Friday. That is the same day Gov. Kathy Hochul signed an executive order that allows state health officials to limit non-essential procedures for in-hospitals or systems with limited capacity.
New York officials are defining limited capacity as 10% staffed bed capacity remaining or as determined by the state Department of Health based on regional factors or health care utilization.
Hochul said Monday she hoped hospitals would increase bed capacity and fall off the list. Any hospital with 10% or less on Friday will need to shut down most elective surgeries until Jan. 15, 2022.
The order has drawn rebukes from Hochul's rivals in the race for governor, including Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin.
A factor, too, has been reduced staffing at some hospitals following a vaccination mandate put into effect by the state earlier this year.
Hochul this week pointed to potentially using National Guard units to shore up staffing needs in the facilities.
"We have surveyed our National Guard resources. We know that there are numbers who have EMT training or health care backgrounds, and we can deploy them in a targeted way to the health care facilities, the nursing homes and long-term health care facilities, where they're having a shortage because here's how it works - one of the reasons we have additional individuals still in hospitals who are non-COVID, who are ready to be discharged, is that the nursing homes don't have enough staff to take them," she said.
But health officials have pointed to the increase in COVID cases and the effect that could have on health care networks.
Hochul's office on Monday also announced 2,829 people are hospitalized in New York statewide due to COVID-19, part of a late fall spike in cases. So far, New York has not detected the omicron variant, deemed a variant of concern by world health officials.
"So we know that the trend is continuing in a bad direction. You can see that heading up," Hochul said on Monday. "Not anywhere near what it was back in April, but there is no excuse. This should be flat line. This should be going down because the vaccine is available and we know that. So we want to make sure that we have more people vaccinated. Our numbers keep getting better. They keep getting better, but there are some holdouts, 90.3 percent have at least one dose."
Hochul has urged New York adults who qualify to receive COVID booster shots to guard against serious illness.