How NY is preparing for its next COVID-19 outbreak

Governor Cuomo during a briefing on July 13th.
Governor Cuomo during a briefing on July 13th.
Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor Cuomo during a briefing on July 13th.

How NY is preparing for its next COVID-19 outbreak

As the rest of the country sees enormous spikes in coronavirus cases, the state braces for the inevitable.
July 13, 2020

On Sunday, New York City hit a major milestone: it’s first day without any new deaths caused by COVID-19. Gov. Andrew Cuomo celebrated the end of the state’s outbreak on Monday, by unveiling a poster detailing its strides during the height of the coronavirus crisis, drawing eyerolls on Twitter.

The city saw its first known COVID-19 death on March 11, and now 32,075 New Yorkers have died from the virus, according to The New York Times

New Yorkers aren’t prepared to let their guard down just yet. In a new Siena College poll of New York residents released on Monday, 82% of the individuals polled believe that it is somewhat or very likely that the state will see another COVID-19 outbreak in the fall. The poll also found that 62% of the New Yorkers feel that they haven’t seen the worst of the pandemic yet, while 27% feel they have. 

Despite his onslaught of celebratory artwork – this follows the coronavirus mountain and his previous posters – Cuomo himself acknowledges the pandemic isn’t over. On Friday, Cuomo remarked that he feels as though the state will soon see an increase of coronavirus cases, due to the huge surge in cases currently happening in the southern and western states.

The number of coronavirus-infected individuals has been extremely low in the city and state recently, thanks to New York’s prolonged shutdown. But preparations have begun in case the state sees another uptick in cases, which several experts have pointed out is a distinct possibility as the state has embarked on reopening and suppression efforts such as testing, tracing contacts and quarantining the infected are hampered by lack of federal investment. “I’m not sure how long this progress is going to hold,” Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative at Columbia University, told the Associated Press regarding New York.

Cuomo recently initiated a 14-day quarantine for people coming in from a select number of states, such as Arizona, Florida and Texas, that are currently seeing high numbers of COVID-19 cases, in an effort to prevent another outbreak. The state’s practical ability to enforce this new rule, however, remains uncertain. However, on Monday, the governor announced that any individuals coming to New York from states with bad outbreaks will need to contact New York authorities to inform them of their visit, where they’re coming from and where they're going. If they do not comply, out-of-towners could face a $2,000 fine and a court summons. Those travelling by plane will also be required to fill out a form detailing this information that they are expected to fill out before leaving the airport.

Many nursing homes in New York, which saw over 6,400 residents succumb to the coronavirus, have been prepping for new coronavirus cases. Nursing home employees are also required to get COVID-19 tests twice a month. And some homes have created separate wings for infected residents to help them contain the virus in the event of another outbreak, although they will no longer accept recovering COVID-19 patients from hospitals. 

Hospitals are also creating new coronavirus protocols for their employees and are more prepared to tackle the next outbreak. “The difference now is we know the capacity of this virus to rapidly spread to cause disease, its impact on the health care system and our needs in terms of testing, personal protective equipment, ventilators — all the other things we didn’t know six months ago,” Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, an epidemiology professor at Columbia, told AP.

Cuomo has said that he would order the state’s hospitals to have at least a 90-day supply of personal protective equipment on hand for future emergencies, after New York City hospitals became desperate for supplies during the peak of its coronavirus crisis. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has also said that the city would build up its own reserve of supplies, including ventilators, PPE and shelf-stable meals from local vendors. 

Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
is City & State's web reporter and social media editor.
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