Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that New York hospitals are struggling to avoid being overwhelmed as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the state continue to rise.
“We are now worried about overwhelming the hospital system, and if those numbers continue to increase, which we expect they will, you will see serious stress on the hospital system,” Cuomo said at a press briefing Monday in Manhattan.
“Hospital capacity is the top concern, period,” the governor said. “It’s about hospital beds, it’s about ICU, and it’s about having enough staff and enough equipment.”
Cuomo said the state will attempt to prevent hospitals from running out of resources by requiring that hospitals transfer patients within their system to prevent a particular location from becoming overwhelmed. Hospitals may also have to transfer patients between different systems such Northwell and NYU Langone if necessary.
The governor also said every hospital in the state is required to start preparing a list of retired doctors and nurses who could potentially be recruited to aid health care workers on the front lines should they need additional staff. Many of the around 30,000 health care workers who came to New York earlier this year to help when New York City was the country’s coronavirus epicenter are likely not available now as other areas of the country grapple with their own case surges.
Some areas are already facing staffing shortages, an issue Cuomo said he was more concerned about than running out of hospital beds.
“We can build beds. We can’t create more staff. And the staff is starting tired,” Cuomo said.
“We’re not going to live through the nightmare of overwhelmed hospitals again,” the governor said. “This was a serious issue last time.”
The state’s positive test rate for the virus reached a record 4.57 percent on Sunday, the highest level since May in the thick of the initial outbreak. This month, New York implemented new restrictions on social gatherings as holiday travel is expected to exacerbate the current rise in cases.