NEW YORK — New York is creating a statewide hospital command post and database that will keep a real-time inventory of hospital resources and allocate them were they are needed most each day.
The move comes as some New York City hospitals are struggling with COVID-19 patients — President Trump said Sunday he was shaken by images from Elmhurst Hospital in his native Queens, where 13 people died in one 24-hour period, and the dead are being placed in freezer trucks.
Upstate hospitals — racing to add capacity but so far not needing it — are being called into the fray.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week said he’ll try to avoid moving downstate patients upstate, but will if necessary. During Monday’s press briefing, he said: “We have hospitals in upstate New York that are experiencing none of this. They have bed capacity, they have staff capacity. We need you now here in this fight, and engaged.”
The hardest-hit county in the Capital Region is Albany County, with 217 confirmed cases. Only about 15 of those patients are hospitalized, however. Its largest hospital, Albany Medical Center, has 766 beds in normal times and more now.
New York reached 66,497 confirmed cases statewide by midafternoon Monday. That broke down to 37,453 in the five boroughs of New York City, 26,407 in the five counties closest to New York City, and 2,637 total in the state’s other 52 counties.
Statewide, about 9,500 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized as of Monday morning, roughly 2,000 of them in intensive care units. The death toll reached 1,218, up from 965 a day earlier. About 4,000 patients have been hospitalized, have recovered, and were discharged.
Cuomo ordered the landmark spire of Manhattan’s One World Trade Center lit in red, white and blue Monday night as a show of national unity in a time of crisis. It’s a message that may need to be redirected to some of those 52 upstate counties, where a growing number of voices are calling for downstaters to stay downstate so as to not spread the virus upstate and not clog medical facilities here.
Cuomo spoke Monday from the Jacob Javits Center, a sprawling Manhattan convention center where a 1,000-bed emergency hospital was built on a rush basis last week and has begun accepting patients. A thousand yards north, the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort docked Monday at Pier 88, bringing another 1,000 beds.
Both of these — and the others now being built near New York City — will be used for non-COVID patients diverted or transferred from city hospitals that need beds for the pandemic. Cuomo said he asked the feds to clear the Javits and Comfort beds for COVID patients but was denied.
The hospitals in and around New York City are a mix of public and private, Cuomo said Monday, and have operated on their own to varying degrees so far in the crisis.
Beginning immediately, the public hospitals will divert and transfer patients among themselves, and the private hospitals will do the same. When either public or private hits saturation — and Cuomo said public will probably get there first — one will divert patients to the other. When both are saturated, the patients presumably start moving north, though Cuomo didn’t say that Monday.
The goal is to prevent another Elmhurst crisis.
“Elmhurst Hospital is a New York City public hospital,” Cuomo said. “It is struggling, that is clear to everyone. I’ve asked other hospitals to pitch in and help Elmhurst and also anticipate other public hospitals that may struggle as the numbers increase and be ready to help them also.
“Do everything you can to save every life possible. No one hospital has the resources to deal with this.”
Also Monday, Cuomo addressed the issue of supplies. Trump supporters have lit on the president’s suggestion that as New York scrambles for supplies and equipment to deal with a growing patient surge, it is stockpiling rather than using ventilators, masks and other critical supplies.
This is true, Cuomo said. The state does have a stockpile.
“It is a fundamental blunder to only prepare for today. That’s why in some ways we are where we are. We’ve been behind this virus from day one,” Cuomo said. “Prepare for the high point of the curve and do it now. What, are you going to do it the night before?”
In other COVID-19 developments Monday:
- Confirmed cases in the Capital Region through mid afternoon totaled 217 in Albany County, one in Fulton County, six in Montgomery County, 40 in Rensselaer County, 105 in Saratoga County, 80 in Schenectady County and six in Schoharie County.
- The Northeast Regional Food Bank delivered 19,137 pounds of donated food to the Times Union Center; with help from the New York National Guard, it will be boxed up Tuesday and shipped out to the needy among the 782 Albany County residents who are quarantined.
- Under emergency order by Town Supervisor Yasmine Syed, Niskayuna closed all town buildings to the public except the Police Department and — only on Saturday mornings — the transfer station. Playgrounds, pavilions, picnic tables and the dog park also are off limits. Athletic fields and courts remain open to the public, but only with at last 6 feet of separation among those using them.
- Downtown Schenectady businesses will do a Facebook Live promotion each weekday afternoon at 4 p.m. on the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation’s Facebook page — “Show Me Schenectady,” which is designed to highlight the downtown merchants, many of whom have been shut down on state order in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.
- The city of Schenectady will resume yard waste collection Wednesday, with the renewed operation of the county compost facility. Leaves, grass clippings and plant material should be placed in 30-gallon biodegradable paper bags. The neighborhood schedule is available at www.cityofschenectady.com/222/Garbage-Recycling
- Latham-based Community Care Physicians, which has been sending its 370,000 patients to hospitals for COVID-19 testing, said it has begun collecting test samples itself at a drive-through site at its 713 Troy-Schenectady Road facility. For now, the testing is limited to its own patients, and only those who are in high-risk categories and showing symptoms. It said promising developments taking shape — New York state’s Wadsworth Laboratory has developed a saliva test that will be ready this week — will greatly increase capacity and speed of its testing there.
- State Sen. James Seward, R-Oneonta, said he and his wife, Cindy, have tested positive for COVID-19. He expects to be released from Albany Medical Center soon and quarantine at home with his wife, who has a mild case. The district of the veteran lawmaker, who announced this year he would not seek re-election, includes Schoharie County.