Nov 30, 2020 - Health

Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as COVID capacity dwindles

Andrew Cuomo wears a face mask in front of an American flag
Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that struggling state hospital systems must transfer patients to sites that are not nearing capacity, as rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations strain medical resources.

Why it matters: New York does not expect to get the same kind of help from thousands of out-of-state doctors and nurses that it got this spring, Cuomo acknowledged, as most of the country battles skyrocketing COVID hospitalizations and infections.

By the numbers: New York has reported an average of more than 6,000 new cases per day over the last week, with more than 3,300 COVID-19 patients currently in the hospital. At its peak in April, New York was reporting over 11,000 new cases per day and more than 18,000 hospitalizations.

What he's saying: "If a hospital gets overwhelmed, there will be a state investigation. And if the result of that investigation is they did not distribute the patients, that will be malpractice on their part," Cuomo said, noting that the state's mandate would be effective immediately.

  • "I am very worried about staff shortage," he added.
  • Elective surgeries must be halted in Erie County as of Friday. Other parts of the state will be required to cancel elective surgeries if cases continue to get worse, Cuomo said.
Cuomo COVID presentation screenshot
Screenshot of Cuomo's presentation via Twitter.

The big picture: Governors and health officials across several states, including North Dakota, Colorado and Tennessee, have been warning about overburdened hospitals reaching their limits for weeks.

  • Rhode Island reached its hospital capacity on Monday, the Providence Journal reports.
  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday that elective surgeries that do not require overnight stays will be cut, local outlet WSAZ reports.
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