Coronavirus cases in New York State jumped by more than 1,000 today, up to 2,382 total cases statewide, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today.
There were 432 new cases in New York State yesterday, signaling that confirmed cases are rising rapidly with the expansion of testing.
But the percentage of current hospitalizations from confirmed coronavirus cases are also increasing—from 14% last week to 23% today—which officials say is a worrying sign for the ability of New York’s hospital systems to handle the influx of new patients.
To combat the spread, businesses across New York State will be required to have no more than 50% of their workforce on site, under an executive order Cuomo announced today at a press conference in the State Capitol.
Businesses deemed “essential services” will be exempted from the order, Cuomo said.
Essential services would include food sales and deliveries, pharmacies, health care, transportation, shipping, and supplies, the governor said. His office will release a full list later today.
He did not specify the effective date for the order.
The governor already ordered all government agencies to have no more than 50% of their workforces on site.
“I’m also asking all businesses to voluntarily, if at all possible, work from home and have your people work from home,” Cuomo said.
The governor said expanded mandatory on-site workforce reductions may be necessary.
The workforce limitations — like the mandatory school closures and Monday’s mandatory closures of theaters, gyms, casinos, restaurants and bars, as well as the 50% limitation on allowable rated occupancy in all public places — are aimed at reducing the density of people in any given place.
Reducing density will help reduce the spread of the virus in the community, according to health officials. They hope these measures will “flatten the curve” — the apex of the outbreak — sufficiently such that the state will have enough hospital capacity to deal with infections at their peak.
The state is tracking infections and the rate of hospitalizations for those who become infected. As of now, 23% of those infected are being hospitalized, Cuomo said. The hospitalization rate was 14% last week, he said. The hospitalization rate is important because it indicates how many hospital beds — and ICU beds, in particular — will be needed to treat sick New Yorkers at the peak of the outbreak, which state officials expect is about six weeks away.
The state has 53,000 hospital beds — which are already 80% filled — and will need 110,000 at the peak of the outbreak, according to the governor. It has 3,000 ICU beds and will need at least 37,000. New York State, like many other places in the world is scrambling to obtain ventilators for ICU beds, he said, and the global competition for the lifesaving equipment is fierce.
Cuomo said President Trump is dispatching the USNS Comfort to New York Harbor. It has 1,000 hospital beds. The President is also arranging to send mobile hospitals to New York. They can handle 200 patients each.
The President has pledged the full support of the federal government to help New York battle the virus, the governor said. New York has the assistance of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Secretary of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in these efforts, Cuomo said.
New York has requested a federal disaster declaration, according to FEMA.
The state recognizes the dramatic economic impacts of the sweeping restrictions it has implemented, which the governor said are essential if the state is to succeed in its battle against COVID-19. The impacts on the private sector and the state budget will be very difficult, he said, and federal assistance will be required.
He alluded to “an old Italian saying,” he said he was “roughly translating”: “A rich person is a person that has their health. Everything else you can figure out.”
“Let’s maintain and protect public health,” Cuomo said. “We’ll figure out the economy afterwards.”
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