Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order on cutting to 75% of workforce for non-essential businesses; the Navy’s USNS Comfort, on its way; Army Corps of Engineers to Help and much more…
Cuomo: “A Rich person is a person who has their health. Everything else you can figure out.“
Update – March 19, 2020: the Governor announced an adjustment to his original mandate of 50% workforce. Now, non-essential businesses would be required to have no more than 25% of their workforce working within offices and such. Meaning, at least 75% would need to work from home.
In Albany, Governor Andrew Cuomo, on the afternoon of March 18, 2020 held a press conference in which he announced a number of new developments related to the state’s battle with the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The governor explained the situation as it stands and the problems our state would be facing in as far as the need for hospital and ICU beds are concerned.
Near the bottom of this page you’ll find the corresponding video of Cuomo’s appearance today.
“The context is important. Remember, for everyone, what we’re trying to do. On the overall management: The Number of corona virus cases through the healthcare system has to match the capacity of the healthcare system. That’s what this whole conversation has been about since day one. They keep talking about the curve.
What they’re trying to say is the curve, (the increase in the number of cases) has to be reduced to a rate of admission that your hospitals can handle, and right now we’re at 53,000 hospital beds, 3,000 ICU beds. That’s what the entire country is doing, that’s what the federal government is trying to do.
What is the particular problem here? That, this is a respiratory illness. The people who come in often have an underlying illness. They need an ICU bed. An ICU bed is the equivalent of a ventilator. It’s all about the ventilators. That’s why you see so much about how we get additional ventilators.
Right now, in New York specifically, the rate of the curve suggests that in 45 days we could have up to an input of 110,000 beds (people needing 110,000 beds) that compares to our current capacity of 53,000 beds…37,000 ICU units (ventilators) which compares to a capacity currently of 3,000 ventilators. That’s our main issue, and again, that’s a projection. Projections can change or you can change projections, but that’s the problem we’re dealing with.”
The Governor went on to outline the approach to be taken in solving our problems (anticipated, foreseen and unknowable):
“So what is the plan of action? Flatten the curve, Flatten the curve, Flatten the curve. Reduce the spread. How do you reduce the spread? Testing, Isolate the positives, but frankly, more move towards density reduction. Reduce the number of people in contact. Second, increase the hospital capacity. Hospitals currently at 53,000 beds. How do you get more beds in your hospital. Third, identify new hospital beds. How do we increase the supply of hospital beds. Well, that’s very hard when you only talking about 45 days. So what? This is New York. There’s nothing we can’t do…and, do all three of those things simultaneously. Which is what we’re doing.
In identifying new hospital beds we met yesterday with all hospital administrators. I spoke to them, I said we have to increase the number of beds in your hospital. We’re going to wave all of the Department of Health regulations for the time being. The Department of Health says how many beds you can have in a room, and the space between the beds. All good regulations by the way. But wave them so that we can get more beds into existing hospitals. We also have to make sure those beds are beds are staffed. So, more staff, reserved staff, we’re reaching out to retired nurses, retired doctors, nursing schools, medical schools, to build up a reserve capacity. Because also you have to anticipate that some hospital workers will get sick during this. So you need a reserve capacity for that basis.
How do you create new hospital beds? It’s probably the greatest challenge. First, convert facilities and take people who are in current hospital beds and move them into a converted facility, who need a lower level of care. Second, the federal partnership, which is key. As we discussed yesterday, the state cannot do this on its own. We don’t have the capacity, we don’t have a workforce. We’re very ambitious, we’re very aggressive, but the most important thing in life to know is to know what you cannot do. Know your limitations. We can’t build new hospitals in 45 days. The federal government can be extremely helpful here. ‘and we need the federal government’s help. I had a conversation with the president yesterday. It was an open and honest conversation. We’ve always had a good dialogue. Even when we don’t agree, we’ve always had a good dialogue. But the president and I agreed yesterday, look, we’re fighting the same war, and this is a war, and we’re in the same trench. I have your back you have my back and we’re going to do everything we can for the people of the state of New York.”
According to Mr. Cuomo, President Trump has been very cooperative and helpful in the fight as he’s seen not merely through his talks with the Commander in Chief, but as well through actions taken.
“The president agreed to that and I agreed to that. His actions demonstrate that he is doing that. I’ve had a number of conversations with White House staff who are working on this. I had a conversation with the Secretary of the Army. The president sent the Army Corps of Engineers here this afternoon. I’ll be meeting with them this afternoon.
The president is making arrangements to send up this hospital ship, the USNS Comfort. It has about one thousand rooms in it. It has operating rooms. It will be in NYC Harbor. It’s a floating hospital. The president also spoke about the mobile hospitals that the federal government has. These mobile hospitals can come in with capacities of 200-250 people. “
In addition, the Governor outlined steps taken and to be taken in the immediate future. Steps which would help in our lines of defense where social distancing and ‘density reductions’ are concerned.
Cuomo is asking all businesses voluntarily, if it’s at all possible to work from home and have your people to work from home. Mandatory requirements of statewide closing of schools plus a mandatory reduction of 50% of any government employees can show up for work. Essential personnel yes, but no more than 50% of local city governments. Tristate agreement to close bars, restaurants. The governor highlights how important it is for adjoining cities, towns and locales to work together in these goals since people are prone to traveling across borders to seek out that which they wish.
He also announced a mandatory statewide requirement that no business can have more than 50% of their workforce report to work outside of the home. A step to taken by executive order. Essential services would be exempt such as, food, pharmacies, healthcare, shipping, supplies, etc.
It should be noted that NYC Mayor, Bill de Blasio has been making direct references to a number of the items mentioned above. Through his near-daily COVID-19 Emergency Response Briefings and Press Conferences as well as his numerous guest spots on local media shows and stations he’s repeated quite a number of our plans of attack.
One example comes from his statement recently, on March 17, PIX11’s Dan Mannarino
“Even before the National Guard we, working with FEMA – and thank God FEMA is now part of the action simply because the President signed the state of emergency on Friday. With FEMA, we are already moving into place a number of medical tents. We’ve got 11 already. We’ve got between 10 and 20 more coming soon. What we’re going to do is a combination of, you know, I’ve done an executive order canceling elective surgery over the next few days, which means that’s going to free up a huge number of beds right there. Obviously, anything that emerges that’s, you know, life and death, that’s different. But the purely elective surgery has to go in this crisis. We’re going to be discharging patients at hospitals who no longer need to be there, you know, obviously, again, with the first question being their safety, but if they can safely leave, we need them to. We’re going to be building additional emergency capacity in hospitals, whether it is putting a tent in the parking lot, outfitting it properly, turning a cafeteria into an ICU, whatever it may be, we’re going to be doing that. And then we also have found an additional 1,200 or 1,300 new beds. We’re turning – we’re taking a facility that had been shut down on Roosevelt Island, bringing it back. We’re finding beds in other hospitals in the public system that were not being utilized. We’re taking a nursing home in Brooklyn that had not yet opened and the owner has agreed to turn it over for City use, that’s 600 beds.”
Although, the steps taken by Governor Cuomo appear to come a step or two closer to the ‘Shelter in Place’ which the mayor would wish to carry out, there’s always the possibility that the Governor may still come through and give in to the mayor’s wishes. The Governor has stated that he was opposed to the notion of a ‘Shelter in Place’; yet, he had not too long ago expressed how he was against closing the schools only to be followed by his closing them this very week. So, we will see what lies ahead for New Yorkers.