Survey shows that many recent hospitalizations could have been avoided

Photo by Kevin P. Coughlin, Office of the Governor
May 6, 2020–Manhasset–Governor Andrew Cuomo looks at his face mask while discussing social distancing at his daily COVID-19 Coronavirus Briefing at Northwell Health in Manhasset, Long Island Wednesday May 6, 2020.

New data released by the Governor’s Office shows that the majority of New Yorkers hospitalized with COVID-19 over a recent three-day span were mostly downstate New Yorkers who are older but still residing in their own homes, who had not been not traveling or working before their illness.

The data collected from 113 hospitals over three days is aimed at reducing the number of new hospitalizations. More than 1,260 responses from hospitals across the state is being used to help state officials compile statistics that show who is getting new cases of the virus, where and how.

The governor called the results of the survey “shocking” because officials had expected the majority of new hospitalizations to be frontline workers who risk exposure from doing their jobs every day. He suggested that many of the new hospitalizations could have been avoided and the data reaffirms the need to wear a mask, use sanitizer and practice hand washing, and for vulnerable persons to isolate and use extra caution. 

The region that continues to see the most COVID-19 hospitalizations is downstate New York, with 21 percent coming from Manhattan and 18 percent from Long Island. 

Preliminary results also showed that in New York City, more people of color are being disportionately affected and hospitalized. Between the five boroughs, 25 percent of individuals hospitalized are African American, 8 percent are Asian and 20 percent are Hispanic or Latino.

The survey also showed that males are affected slightly more, with a percentage of 52, while females are at 48 percent. 

Ninety-six percent of those hospitalized had comorbidities, or other existing conditions, the survey showed. The largest group of patients being admitted is the 61-to-70 age group, who account for 20 percent of all hospital admissions.

The survey revealed that 66 percent of admissions were from people residing at home, compared to 18 percent who are coming from a nursing home, 4 percent from an assisted living facility. 

On the same note, 84 percent of admissions were from those working from home. Only four percent of the overall individuals used public transportation.

“It [the survey] reinforces what we’ve been saying, which is, much of this comes down to what you do to protect yourself – everything is closed down, the government has done everything it could, society has done everything it could. Now it’s up to you,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at Wednesday’s press conference. “Are you wearing the mask? Are you using hand sanitizer? … Are you staying away from older people? It comes down to personal behavior.”

At the briefing, Cuomo also acknowledged the state’s newest “hotspot” clusters in Madison and Oneida counties at greenhouses and farms. Despite most believing the “hotspots” were in meat plants, Cuomo believes “it’s about worker density and large gatherings.”

Governor Cuomo continues to push for a better New York, post coronavirus. 

“How will we be ready for the next COVID, or the next whatever it is,” Cuomo asked. “How do we use telemedicine better, how do we better allocate our health resources, how do we harden the healthcare system? Let’s take the lessons we just learned and institutionalize it.”

He announced several experts who will help begin to build a reimagined state. This includes Michael Dowling, chief executive officer of Northwell Health, focusing on health care; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focusing on the education system; Michael Bloomberg leading contact tracing data collection and studies; and Eric Schmidt, former CEO and executive chairman of Google, brainstorming how to implement technology in a better way.

“We need to look for solutions that can be presented now and accelerated, and use technology to make things better,” Schmidt said. “My own view is that these moments are a chance to revisit things that are not getting enough attention, and we have systems that need to be updated and reviewed.”