New York has been in the national spotlight since the
beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, gaining infamy as the center of the pandemic
in the United States. The Empire State has confirmed nearly 260,000 COVID-19
cases and over 15,000 coronavirus-related deaths while results from New York's
first coronavirus antibody study show almost 2.7 million tested positive.
Meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo is looking at ways to reopen the state,
claiming that the number of cases has peaked.
The aforementioned study, part of the state’s aggressive
antibody testing launched earlier this week, is based on 3,000 random samples
from 40 locations in 19 counties. While the preliminary data suggests much more
widespread infection, it means New York's mortality rate is actually far lower
than previously believed. New York City, unsurprisingly, had a higher rate of
antibodies than anywhere else in the state and accounted for 43 percent of the
total tested. Long Island, which is also densely populated, had a 16.7 percent
positivity rate. "[This study] means a lot of us in NYC have been
infected. But that's not surprising news -- we've seen high levels of cases for
over a month,” Manhattan emergency room physician and Ebola survivor Craig
Spencer tweeted. “It means the virus is STILL spreading in NYC. It means that
the MAJORITY of us are still very susceptible.
Despite these disturbing statistics, the state is reporting
that new cases of COVID-19 have peaked. In a press conference on Tuesday,
Governor Cuomo discusses opening rural swaths of the state based on a
“data-driven” approach. While New York City and the surrounding counties are
densely populated, the populations of western and northern New York are far
more scattered. “When you say New York, people think New York City -- one of
the densest places on the globe,” Cuomo said. “You also have upstate New York
where, in some counties, you have more cows than people.” New York will base
its regional approach on the 10 economic zones that divvy up the state. A
regional template will be used to track infection rates, hospitalizations and
bed capacity, and more.
The regional reopening will begin with allowing elective
outpatient surgeries to resume at certain upstate medical centers next week. If
the hospital capacity is over 25 percent for the county and there have been
fewer than 10 new hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the county over the
past 10 days, then elective outpatient treatments can resume. In regards to the
statewide stay-at-home order, however, the governor remained rigid. The state
argues that it would be “logistically impossible” to stop residents in areas
with high infection rates from traveling to reopened regions. This stance
prompted a protest in front of the state capitol building in Albany, similar toprotests
against stay-at-home orders across the country.
Be sure to check
the coronavirus information section of the NAHU website, where we have COVID-19
State Fact sheets that provide info on adopted social distancing measures,
health-policy action to reduce barriers to testing and treatment, and
legislation that has been introduced in response to COVID-19 at the state
level. We also have the COVID-19 State Reopening Tracker which lists the latest information on how each state is preparing to reopen.