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Downstate COVID-19 patients being transported via helicopter; Ellis in Schenectady accepts patient via air Sunday

Downstate COVID-19 patients being transported via helicopter; Ellis in Schenectady accepts patient via air Sunday

Downstate COVID-19 patients being transported via helicopter; Ellis in Schenectady accepts patient via air Sunday
A downstate COVID-19 patient is transferred to Ellis Hospital via helicopter at Schenectady High's parking lot Sunday
Photographer: Peter Barber/Staff Photographer

SCHENECTADY — Ellis Medicine confirmed on Sunday it had accepted a patient transfer from downstate via helicopter and had plans to accept another later Sunday evening. 

The facility has “ample capacity at this time” to accept transfers, especially since non-essential services such as elective surgeries have been cancelled, said Philip Schwartz, a hospital spokesperson. 

“We will continue to evaluate our capacity every day,” Schwartz said. 

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While rare for Ellis to accept transfers via air transport, doing so is part of the facility’s operations planning and part of its emergency operations plan. 

Schenectady High School will be used as a staging area before patients are transported.

Hospitalizations and deaths continued to mount in the Capital Region on Sunday. 

The total death toll in Albany County now stands at eight, up two from Saturday, announced county Executive Daniel P. McCoy: A man in his 70s and a woman in her 60s, both with underlying health issues. 

The county now has 288 confirmed cases.

Additionally, there are now 384 people under mandatory quarantine and 72 people under precautionary quarantine. 

With 38 people now hospitalized, the hospitalization rate for the county stands at just over 13 percent, with 13 patients in the ICU. 

Schenectady County now has 117 confirmed cases, and the death toll is now seven, according to a county spokesperson. 

The hospitalization rate leapt from 29 to 52. County officials noted the number includes all patients regardless of county of residence, and some of them are downstate residents being treated at Ellis Medicine.

Quarantines in Schenectady County increased to 485 on Sunday, up 81 from the day before.

Elsewhere, Saratoga County has 155 confirmed cases and 16 hospitalizations. 

Montgomery County has 15 positive cases; Schoharie County, 11; and Fulton County, nine, according to the state’s COVID-19 tracker. 

Across the Capital Region, statistics can be inconsistent from one county to the next due to variations in what is disclosed in each county and the methods used to collect and define the data. 

At least three-dozen New York City-area patients were receiving treatment at area hospitals as of Friday.

Statewide, the coronavirus death rate has dipped slightly.

The number of people who’ve died related to coronavirus in the past 24 hours is 594, bringing statewide totals to 4,159, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday morning. 

That’s a slight dip from when 630 deaths were announced the previous day — the deadliest one-day total yet from the pandemic.

Cuomo warned against drawing a definitive conclusion. 

The state could be nearing an apex, he said. But other forecasting models show a plateau where the number stays high for several days before declining.  

“We’re all feeling our way through this,” Cuomo said. “We won’t know for the next few days. Does it go up? Does it go down?”

On Friday, 532 deaths were announced.

A return to normalcy ultimately will hinge on the availability of widespread testing, Cuomo said.

The faster testing is made available, he said, the quicker people who test negative can gradually reenter the workforce.

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“I think we’ll see a return to normalcy with a rapid testing program brought to scale,” Cuomo said. “It’s under development now, and that is the answer, I believe.”

The state will open a new drive-thru testing facility at University at Albany on Monday, Authorities expect to test hundreds of people daily, a number that will eventually ramp up, according to state officials. 

The number of ICU admissions and hospitalizations is also decreasing, Cuomo said on Sunday. 

To date, the state has reported 122,031 cases with 16,479 hospitalized.
 
Seventy-four percent of the non-vulnerable population has been discharged, Cuomo said. 

New York City is the epicenter of the crisis.

But Cuomo reiterated a wave will surge across upstate in coming days, and hospitals need to be able to “surge and flex,” or share equipment and supplies as necessary, as well as transfer patients. 

That wave is already shifting to Long Island, while upstate remains “basically flat,” Cuomo said.

“Some patients who show up at their neighborhood hospital may be asked if we can transport you to another hospital that is not in your neighborhood but has the capacity," Cuomo said.

NO VENTILATORS REDISTRIBUTED

The state has not yet seized any ventilators from upstate hospitals and redeployed them to their downstate counterparts.

“I just want to know where they are in case we need them,” Cuomo said. 

The order was met with significant resistance from both local elected and hospital officials on Friday. 

But the directive will bring only about 500 additional machines to the New York City-area hospitals that need them, Cuomo said. 

The governor reiterated on Sunday the state would only commander 20 percent of a hospital's unused machines.

He likened the potential shift of equipment to fire departments hosing down neighboring buildings to prevent a fire from spreading.

“No one community can handle this alone,” he said. 

Cuomo reported on Saturday 1,000 ventilators were due to be flown into New York City from China and that Oregon was donating 140 machines. 

The governor pledged to return the favor: That equipment will be deployed elsewhere nationwide once the wave subsides in the state, Cuomo said, and starts to ripple across the country. 

The governor reiterated he wants hospitals to work as one health network statewide and hospitals need to be able to “surge and flex,” sharing equipment and supplies and transferring patients as necessary. 

“We’re not going to lose a life because we didn’t share resources amongst ourselves,” Cuomo said. 

GAZETTE COVID-19 COVERAGE

The Daily Gazette is committed to keeping our community safe and informed and is offering our COVID-19 coverage to you free.
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