Dining halls in New York will be closed if Covid-19 hospitalizations in the region do not stabilize in five days, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday, as officials warned the increase in the number of cases is expected. accelerate even faster in the coming weeks.
The new strategy, unveiled on Monday, comes as hospitalizations for Covid-19 across the United States hit record levels for days, sounding the alarm over whether enough hospital beds will be available for patients sick.
Mr. Cuomo called the move a “crackdown”. Since the imposition of tighter restaurant restrictions when the pandemic first hit the Northeast this year, New York state has allowed regions to reopen indoor restaurants at reduced capacity during the last few months. New York City has reopened indoor restaurants September.
But the number of cases has steadily increased as cooler weather sets in and ‘Covid fatigue’ has beset people weary of social and economic restrictions.
In New York state, 4,602 people were hospitalized with coronavirus on Sunday, according to state data, including 1,416 in the New York area. Although well below the peaks seen in the first few months of the pandemic, it remains the highest level in months.
Mr Cuomo said areas of the state would enter a more restrictive “red” zone if the availability of hospital beds fell to extremely low levels. “If our hospital capacity becomes critical, we’re going to shut down this area, period,” he said. He also ordered state hospitals to increase their bed capacity by 25%.
While coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations in the United States have all reached record levels in recent days, officials in New York and other states are poised to worsen the pandemic, after millions of Americans traveled and got together with family and friends for the Thanksgiving vacation at the end of November.
Appearing by teleconference during Mr Cuomo’s briefing, Anthony Fauci, one of the senior officials on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said the effect of the Thanksgiving outbreak on cases and hospitalizations would be “another week, a week and a half from now”.
That would bring him right back over the Christmas holidays, when people will likely meet again. Unlike earlier stages of the pandemic, small gatherings are believed to be the main source of coronavirus infection.
“We could start to see things really go wrong in mid-January. Not just for New York State, but for any city or state, ”warned Dr. Fauci, who will be stay in your role under the new administration of President-elect Joe Biden.
California – the most populous US state – last week unveiled a new system linking new coronavirus restrictions to hospitalization levels. Under that state’s system, regions would be forced to issue “stay at home” orders if the capacity of intensive care units drops below 15 percent of available ICU beds.
Home orders started sunday evening in large parts of the state affecting an estimated 33 million people. The Bay Area adopted the measures voluntarily as a precaution, as did the Central San Joaquin Valley region and the broadly defined region of Southern California, which had passed the ICU threshold.
The United States recorded 14.5 million cases of coronavirus on Sunday, with 273,374 deaths. About 101,487 patients are hospitalized with the virus, including more than 20,000 in intensive care units.