State recalibrating hotspot zones to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed

State recalibrating hotspot zones to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed
Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives a briefing on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Source: WWNY)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - If an area goes to a red zone, everything but essential services and businesses will be shut down.

At a news conference in Albany Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is recalibrating the way it designates COVID-19 hotspot zones to prepare for what officials expect to be a rough winter with the virus.

“The only reason you would close the economy,” he said, “is because you’re going to overwhelm the hospitals.”

“A red zone is New York on pause,” he said. Right now, he said, there are no red zones.

“If we see that we’re on a glide path towards overwhelming the hospitals, you have no choice but to close down the economy.”

He said the state will examine data over the weekend and announce any new designations for red, orange, or yellow zones on Monday.

The goal, he said, is to keep as much of the economy open as possible.

“We want as much economic activity as possible and respect public health and the cost of virus, right, so that’s always the calibration.”

Hospitalizations continue to rise across the state, he said, and have risen by 4,000 within the past month.

But compared with the spring, the median hospital stay has decreased from 11 days to five, intensive care admissions are down 30 percent, and the death rate has gone from 23 percent to 8 percent.

As far as where the viral spread is coming from, nearly three-quarters of COVID-19 infections in the state come from what Cuomo calls “living room spread.”

Cuomo said according to statewide contact tracing data “74 percent of the new cases are coming from household gatherings, living room spread.”

That data was collected in September, October, and November.

After household gatherings are health care delivery at about 8 percent, higher education students at 2 percent, education employees at 1.5 percent, and restaurants and bars at 1.4 percent.

In the meantime, a state panel of experts reviewed the FDA’s emergency approval of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Thursday night.

“The New York State Clinical Advisory Task Force has approved unanimously the FDA decision.”

He said New York is expected to receive the first of the allocated 170,000 doses “imminently.”

He said another 340,000 doses of a vaccine from Moderna – which has yet to receive FDA approval – are expected the week of December 21.

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