NY to allow elective outpatient treatment in counties without high risk of COVID-19 surge


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to Buffalo on Tuesday morning for his daily coronavirus briefing.

Speaking at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Governor took time to focus on how the virus is impacting New York City in comparison to the rest of the state.

The big difference is hospitalizations. Here’s the breakdown:

  • New York City – 64 percent
  • Long Island – 21 percent
  • Westchester, Rockland counties – 8 percent
  • Rest of NYS – 7 percent

The total amount of hospitalizations in New York, although just a tick down from the previous day, remains relatively flat around 16,000.

New hospitalizations (roughly 1,300 on Monday) and the amount of people who are intubated are also down though, and these statistics indicate that New York is past the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite this positive news, people are still dying by the hundreds of every day. 481 COVID-19 patients lost their lives between Monday and Tuesday morning. Seven of those victims were in Erie County.

Hospitalizations were also slightly up in Erie County, with the latest 3-day rolling average at 228.

Since Erie County is at too high of a risk for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases, it isn’t being included in New York’s newest lift on restrictions.

Gov. Cuomo announced on Tuesday that New York will allow elective outpatient treatment in counties without a significant risk of COVID-19 surge in near term. Counties that aren’t currently included in this, like Erie, include Dutchess and Rockland.

Jody Lomeo, president & CEO of Kaleida Health, said, “Governor Cuomo is taking a proactive approach and outlining a process to safely open upstate New York. We applaud him for this and look forward to working with his team, Lt. Governor Hochul and the State Department of Health in the coming days and weeks.  In particular, we are eager to learn more about the policy regarding safely resuming hospital operations including elective surgeries.”

As this pandemic continues, Gov. Cuomo encourages people to stay socially distant, despite the fact that many are starting to feel cabin fever, especially with the weather getting warmer.

By doing this, the infection rate should remain under control, Cuomo said. The current rate is 0.9 percent, which means, on average, one person is infecting less than one other person.

Testing has been another critical part of keeping the spread of the virus under control. This doesn’t just mean testing for active cases of the virus, but testing for those who may have had it, too.

Antibody testing began in New York State this week. These kinds of tests, which are given to people who may have previously been infected, help scientists know more about how the virus is spreading, and who is getting it.

MORE |Antibody testing takes place at two Erie County Wegmans stores

But for more testing to occur, Cuomo says the state needs more federal assistance. Last week, Cuomo said that together, states have requested $500 billion in federal aid.

On Tuesday morning, Sen. Chuck Schumer announced a deal has been reached on the major parts of an aid package.

Gov. Cuomo says testing will be the focus of his conversation with President Trump, which is scheduled to take place at The White House on Tuesday afternoon.

Schools and non-essential businesses are closed through May 15 due to Cuomo’s New York State on PAUSE order, which was extended again on Thursday.

New York is working with other nearby states in its efforts to re-open. If one state eases regulations, like opening bars, but a bordering state does not, Cuomo says this would be problematic.

The issue would be the rush of people traveling to particular places, increasing the potential for the virus to spread state-to-state.

With such a big difference in downstate versus upstate, Gov. Cuomo says Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul has been put in charge of coordinating western New York’s response and reopening strategy. Hochul is a native of the region.

MORE | President Trump unveils 3-phase plan to reopen economy

If you wish to utilize the state’s emotional support hotline at this time, call 1-844-863-9314.

Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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