Models show New York’s apex coming this month, Lawmakers reach budget agreement amid crisis

Photo by Kevin P. Coughlin, Office of the Governor
March 8, 2020, New Hyde Park– Gov. Andrew Cuomo, joined by State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, Northwell Health President and C.E.O. Michael Dowling and Northwell Health’s Executive Director Dwayne Breining, tours Northwell Health Imaging at the Center for Advanced Medicine on Long Island Sunday morning March 8, 2020. Cuomo and other officials are preparing for the apex of the virus spread to hit New York in late April.

New York state’s newest projected models for COVID-19 predict an apex of the virus to be at the end of April, with an estimated 16,000 deaths in the state after the worst of the pandemic. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers at today’s afternoon press conference to find a way to grow from this experience instead of living in fear.

“Our challenge is to make sure that the transformation and the change is positive and not negative,” Cuomo said. 

As testing in New York increases, the state is seeing more positive COVID-19 cases, with 83,712 cases as of April 1.

“Nobody knows what’s going to happen and I understand the need for control,” said Cuomo on when life can resume to what it once was.

The state’s prediction on the trajectory of the virus changes daily as new data is interpreted and the models are adapted. 

Currently the state is looking at a McKinsey model to predict the peak of the virus to be at the end of the month. However, Cuomo announced that only with high compliance of social distancing can the state limit the need for ventilators and hospital beds. 

“There are different projections depending on how well social distancing works and how well people comply with it,” Cuomo said.

By continuing to practice social distancing, meaning remaining home when possible and keeping six-feet from others in public, the current model shows a need for 75,000 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients instead of 110,000 beds and 25,000 ventilators instead of 37,000 ventilators.

With many different estimates about the impact of the virus, from doctors to elected officials alike, New York is also using data projections from Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, funded by the Gates Foundation. That model predicts 93,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. with 16,000 deaths in New York after the pandemic has run its course through July.

New York is at the frontline of the virus with New Jersey following behind at over 18,000 cases and the other states in the thousands. 

“If you believe these numbers [death predictions], that means you are going to have tens of thousands of deaths outside of New York,” Cuomo said, warning other states who might not think they will be as impacted by the virus. “If we learn how to do it right here or how to do it the best we can, then we can work cooperatively all across the country.”

The lack of medical supply is the greatest challenge all the states have faced in preparing for the peak of the virus. With states and the federal government competing for ventilators, Cuomo compared the process to a betting system versus forming a cohesive system of distributing ventilators by state need.

The federal government has sent New York 4,000 ventilators since Cuomo began asking for federal aid weeks ago.

“The only hope for a state at this point, is the federal government’s capacity to deliver,” Cuomo said.

The testing process in the state is making advancements, with biotech company Regeneron creating 500,000 free tests that are being delivered at 25,000 tests per day across the state starting this week. 

Technology company Corning has also donated 100,000 test tubes to advance the testing speed in the state. 

Cuomo believes that at-home, rapid testing would alleviate feelings of fear surrounding the virus, and ultimately set us in the right direction.

While those most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are those over 65-years-old and people with underlying health conditions, anyone, if exposed, can catch the virus. 

The state has had challenges implementing social distancing with younger people who don’t view themselves as directly impacted by the virus. 

“Who else has to die for you to understand that you have a responsibility in this,” Cuomo said on behalf of those choosing to still gather in large groups. 

Cuomo announced today that New York City playgrounds will be closing as an additional effort to prevent young people from coming together. 

There is no law regulating the Governor’s social distancing orders, however Cuomo stated that the NYPD needs to be more aggressive in enforcing the regulations. 

Cuomo’s brother, CNN news reporter Chris Cuomo, publicly announced he tested positive for the coronavirus yesterday. He is still in self-quarantine showing strong flu-like symptoms, but still airing his regular show according to Gov. Cuomo. 

The state has not reached any hospital capacity yet, but plans are still in place that could involve moving both patients and employees between upstate and downstate hospital systems, as New York reaches the height of the virus’s impact. 

There is a pool of 82,000 voluntary medical personnel that will be employed by hospitals on their choice and need bases.

“We are working with all the hospitals in the state to do something they have never done before, which is to act as one, to cooperate, to share supplies, share staff, support one another, and shift patients among hospitals which has really never happened to any great extent,” Cuomo said. 

Amid daily changes to combat the pandemic, the New York state budget is due today. 

“We did not scale back our efforts, or our ambitions, to advance this state to greater heights,” Cuomo said. “You look at this budget and you would never know that anything else was going on.” 

Cuomo announced that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins have reached a conceptual agreement on the budget and it is being discussed with the full Legislature.