Cuomo unveils 5 strategies to battle 'new phase' of COVID-19; hospital capacity top concern

Cuomo unveils 5 strategies to battle 'new phase' of COVID-19; hospital capacity top concern
Posted at 1:03 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 12:13:12-05

Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a phone briefing with the latest on New York's COVID-19 battle. Listen in video below.

COVID-19 vaccination plan issues

  • Three concerns Gov. Cuomo is focused on addressing with the federal government
    • Expensive undertaking:
      • Cuomo said the federal government has not provided enough funding for implementing the program.
      • The states are not in a position to fund the vaccination program, he said.
    • Possible discrimination:
      • Cuomo said the program will be especially difficult to administer to Black, brown, Asian and low-income communities, "just like we went through with the COVID tests."
      • The governor pointed out these communities are often underserved by health-care system, while their rate of skepticism could be higher.
      • There will need to be extensive outreach to these communities, but "there is no such provision in the federal program," Cuomo said.
        • "I believe that is discrimination – either by intent or by effect – and I believe it's illegal," the governor said.
      • Cuomo is notifying the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP and other groups to inform the federal government that if they don't have an outreach program, they are furthering the discriminatory and unequal effect of COVID-19.
    • Data-sharing agreement states must sign:
      • There is concern that patient information can and will be shared with federal agencies, including ICE, which would dissuade undocumented immigrants from getting the vaccine.
      • Cuomo issued a letter to Department of Health and Human Services, as well as President-elect Joe Biden and other agencies, signed by 54 New York organizations that work with immigrants in the state, urging the federal government to protect undocumented immigrants.
        • New York has proposed a modified system which would protect residents' personal information and help ensure confidence in the vaccine and its distribution program.

World AIDS Day

  • New York releasing 2019 data, which shows that HIV "incidents" and diagnoses have fallen to record lows in the state.
    • Estimated number of new infections or "HIV incidents" that occurred statewide fell to an all-time low of 1,700 cases.

Original story:
As New York continues to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases statewide and the effects of the Thanksgiving holiday remain uncertain for the next few days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out new strategies as the state shifts to “a new phase” of the coronavirus battle.

The state is in a new phase “in the war against COVID...the battle has shifted,” Gov. Cuomo said Monday, attributing the new phase to colder weather, increased travel and a change in the positive effect of public information and government policies on business protocol.

He also warned that the state could go back under it's "NY PAUSE" order if the situation does not get better.

In the shift, hospital capacity has become the state’s top concern, according to the governor. As of Nov. 29, 3,532 hospitalizations were reported, with nearly 700 patients in intensive care units.

The five strategies have been established by “new facts,” Cuomo said.

Hospital capacity: The main concern – Focus on number of hospitalization and hospital capacity.

  • Adding new metrics to determine if areas will be yellow, orange and red zones:
    • Hospitalization rate
    • Death rate
    • Case rate
    • Available hospital, ICU beds,
    • Available staff
    • Effective patients load management,
    • PPE and equipment availability.
  • Metrics to be set after "post-Thanksgiving effect."
  • Meeting with hospital administrators to assess how much capacity they have etc.
  • Add emergency stop (NY on PAUSE) zone modifications.

Testing: Increase and balance

  • All working to increase gross amount of testing
  • Balanced distribution (test healthcare workers, nursing homes, schools, essential workers, business professionals, personal services, general population.)

Schools (K-8): Keep open when safe

  • Focus on special education and K-8
  • Establish ongoing testing in schools
  • Testing on a weekly basis for schools in orange, red zones
  • School districts can close lower than state threshold, but state’s advice is to keep K-8 open whenever safe.

Small gatherings: #1 cause for spread — alert the public

  • Behavioral shift during holidays, reduced socialization options.
  • Nationwide problem
  • Government ability to monitor small gatherings is limited
  • public education campaign on safety concerns — first masks, not educate on small gatherings
  • Not a political issue: Both Trump and Biden's health officials agree.

Vaccine distribution: Be prepared.

  • Vaccine delivery could start in the next few weeks
  • Pillars: Fairness, equity, safety
  • Inclusive process: outreach to Black, Brown, poor communities
  • Until enough people have been vaccinated, keep operating economy at maximum safety level.

As the state works to ensure there is enough hospital capacity as cases surge, the department of health has initiated emergency hospital measures:

  • Staff shortage: ID retired nurses, doctors
  • Stop elective surgery
  • Individual hospital network load balancing mandated. (Northwell, H+H, Montefiore)
  • Prepare emergency field hospitals plan
  • Hospitals plan to add 50% bed capacity.
  • Prepare to implement statewide "surge and flex."
  • Prepare to staff emergency field hospitals
  • Emergency PPE stockpile

Though New York's numbers remain lower than other parts of the country, the state has seen an uptick in its COVID-19 positivity rate.

The state has reported another 6,819 new daily positive cases and 54 new fatalities, bringing the state's death toll to 26,744.