Hospitalizations drop, but New York not out of the woods yet, governor warns

Photo by Mike Groll, Office of the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned New Yorkers to not get complacent, as NY PAUSE and social distancing have slowed the rate of hospitalizations, but daily death tolls continue to rise. 

Tuesday saw the largest sign;e-day number of COVID-19-related deaths in New York, at 779.

A closer breakdown of the fatalities of COVID-19 show the highest number of deaths in New York City to be Hispanic with the greatest fatalities coming from Kings County.

“Are more public workers Latino and African American, who don’t have a choice, frankly, but to go out there every day and drive the bus, drive the train, and show up for work and wind up subjecting themselves to this virus,” Cuomo said, referencing the higher danger of virus infections among minority communities in New York. “

Cuomo directed the President of SUNY Albany, Dr. Havidan Rrodriguez, and the Department of Health to begin increased testing in minority communities and to begin collecting data to understand why certain communities have been hit harder than others.

The majority of the New Yorkers who have died of the virus also had pre-existing health conditions of high blood pressure, diabetes and hyperlipidemia. 

As hospitals across the state report more decreases in hospitalization, this includes those discharged and those who have died, so the death toll will continue to rise. 

Cuomo has directed all flags to be held at half-mast for the over 6,000 New Yorkers lives that have been lost from COVID-19.

The death toll has surpassed casualties from the 9/11 terrorist attacks which resulted in the loss of 2,753 New Yorkers. 

“Look at the number of people we have lost,” Cuomo said. “ Remember that before you decide to go out of the house because you have cabin fever.”

A continuous decrease in hospitalizations, of more people leaving than being admitted into hospitals, could help stabilize hospitals reaching over-capacity and minimize the use of temporary COVID-19 hospitals in the Javits Center and  U.S. Navy Ship Comfort. 

The state’s “ surge and flex” system of New York hospitals working together and sharing equipment, supplies and staff on an as-needed basis has been successful, according to Cuomo. Yesterday he announced that 802 ventilators had been distributed downstate through this program. 

However, Cuomo made it clear at Wednesday’s press conference that the current flattening of the curve will only remain so if people strictly follow the social-distancing orders. 

“It is our job as a society to protect the vulnerable, and that is what this has always been about from day one,” Cuomo said. 

On Tuesday, Cuomo raised the fine for violating the state’s social distancing protocols from $500 to $1,000, which have consisted of the closure of non-essential businesses, a ban on large gatherings, staying home as much as possible, and keeping a 6-foot distance between others in public spaces. 

A new social media campaign, #IStayHomeFor, was launched by the state today, to remind people of the lives at risk from the virus. 

For the lives of New Yorkers to begin to turn back to normal the infection rate still has to drastically decrease. On a case by case basis, decisions will be about which businesses can reopen or if employees can return to work.  

The decrease in hospitalizations has only started five days ago, showing that something is working, but and end to the heightened precautions is not expected in the immediate future. 

“I think if we are smart we will achieve a new normal,” said Cuomo. “ The way we are understanding the new normal when it comes to the economy, a new normal when it comes to the environment, and now we understand a new normal in terms of health.”