Positive Testing Rate in All Focus Zone Areas is 7.35 Percent; New York State Positivity Outside All Focus Zone Areas is 4.79 Percent
Statewide Positivity Rate is 5.41 Percent
60 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday
Governor Cuomo: "The federal government is now offering an initiative where they will do the vaccinations for nursing homes and nursing home staff. They contract with medical companies, drug companies to actually do the vaccinations of nursing home residents and nursing home staff. A state can opt in or opt out. We're going to opt in to that program. So, the federal government will be vaccinating nursing home residents and nursing home staff. They do the staff on a rotating basis."
Cuomo: "The lack of compliance is a problem. I understand COVID fatigue. I understand people are resentful of these regulations. I get it, but if you don't enforce the restrictions and if the restrictions are violated, then they're pointless. They have to be enforced and I need the local governments to do the enforcement of the restrictions. Our largest two problems right now, 1) the 70 percent spread small gatherings aggravated by the holiday season, and 2) lack of compliance on the restrictions which is social fatigue, social resentment, social noncompliance and lack of government enforcement."
Cuomo: "Relative to the nation, we are doing very, very, very well. By our hospital capacity, we're doing well. By our ICU capacity, we're doing well. The household spread and small gathering spread, that's our problem. People not following the restrictions, local governments are not enforcing, that's a problem. That's where we are. The vaccine is the weapon that ends the war. The question is how long it takes."
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 20 million COVID-19 test results have been reported to New York State since the pandemic began.
AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Good afternoon guys. I want to make sure everybody's working on a Friday afternoon. It's not even 4:00 o'clock, so I don't feel bad about keeping people late. I have on the telephone Melissa DeRosa, Robert Mujica, Jim Malatras, Howard Zucker, Gareth Rhodes, Beth Garvey. Follow the data. Follow the data. Give love, get love. The data says today is day 279. The overall state with micro-clusters 5.4, overall state without micro-clusters 4.7, micro-clusters 7.3. Sixty New Yorkers passed away. They are in our thoughts and prayers and that's the most important number of the day. Hospitalizations up 159. 795 people in ICU, that's up 12. 403 intubated, that's up 26. If you want to look at the numbers across the state, positivity by region: Western New York 7.4; Finger Lakes 6.6; Central New York 5.7; Mohawk 5.7; Mid Hudson 5.4; Long Island 4.8; North Country 4.2; Capital Region 4.1; New York City 3.8; Southern Tier 2.75. Good for the Southern Tier.
The infection rate is not that relevant anymore. We're really focusing on the hospitalization rate and hospitalization capacity. Hospitalization rate as a percentage of population, right - it's not just the raw number, it's the percentage of the population. Western New York and Finger Lakes are at the top at about .03; Central New York is also .03l Mohawk Valley .03; Mid Hudson .02; Long Island .02; Southern Tier .02; Capital Region .02; New York City .02; North Country .01.
When we talk about hospital capacity, this is something that I think is important for people to remember, we do something different in New York. We do a lot of things different in New York, but when it comes to the hospital management, we do things that other states don't do. We start with about 53,000 hospital beds, okay? We then have ended elective surgery in the past. We ended elective surgery in Buffalo as of today. Of the 53,000 current hospital beds about 35,000 are occupied. If you end the elective surgery, you vacate a percentage of those 35,000 beds. It depends on the hospital, but if you vacate 50 percent of the beds, that's another 17,000 beds, right? if you vacate a third of the beds, that's about another 10,000 beds, right? So, that is an option that we will exercise if we need to.
Second, we have in the past and we are prepared to again, mandate a 50 percent increase in hospital beds. That takes the 53,000 up to 75,000 hospital beds. So, when it comes to hospital capacity: we have elective surgery cancellation, mandatory 50 percent increase, and then we have emergency bed creation capacity where we can create several thousand hospital beds relatively quickly. We know that, because we've done that, and we can do that again. So, that's on the hospital capacity issue - we have flexibility in our capacity, hence the "flex and surge" plan. It's not that we were that creative in the name; it's just very descriptive.
On the ICU capacity, some states, California, is putting in restrictions because they have an ICU bed capacity issue. Our ICU bed capacity is about - we have about, rough numbers, 6,000 ICU beds. Right now, we have about close to 40 percent of those beds available, okay? California has an issue because they have about 15 percent of their ICU beds available - we have about 40 percent of our seat our ICU beds available, so that is also good news for the State of New York.
Another factor that you need to understand: We all have mild version of PTSD from what we went through in the spring. The spring, the hospital protocol, the medical protocol, was very different for COVID. Listen to this: In March and April, 25 percent of those hospitalized went to the ICU. 85 percent of those in the ICU were intubated - that then drove the ventilator crisis. Currently, instead of 25 percent going to ICU, 18 percent go to ICU. Instead of 85 percent intubated, only 45 percent are intubated. The length of stay in the hospital in March, April, 11 days. It is now less than half that. It's down to five days is the average hospital stay. So, when you're talking about hospital capacity, people are in the hospital for less than half the time they were before. Even when you're talking about ICU capacity, the ICU capacity when we had an ICU issue, it was because the ICU beds, we couldn't get ventilators for the ICU beds. They're not using as many ventilators on the ICU beds anymore. And then the most encouraging number: March, April of those hospitalized, 23 percent died. That number is down to 8 percent, so God bless the medical professionals who have learned more about how to treat COVID, have more therapeutics, have better medicines and better practices, but the death rate has gone from 23 to 8 percent. I have inquired, because you know me, I make many inquiries, most go unanswered, but I've inquired if the viral strain has actually weakened. Nobody will say that it has, but the death rate going from 23 to 8 is truly significant.
Another development - the federal government is now offering an initiative where they will do the vaccinations for nursing homes and nursing home staff. They contract with medical companies, drug companies to actually do the vaccinations of nursing home residents and nursing home staff. A state can opt in or opt out. We're going to opt in to that program. So, the federal government will be vaccinating nursing home residents and nursing home staff. They do the staff on a rotating basis. What we also are planning is there are about, let's say 700,000 health care workers, of the 700,000 about one third are considered high risk healthcare workers. We had this conversation - not all health care workers are classified as high risk, all 700,000, have a risky job, and I totally respect them. But of the 700,000, one third are classified as high risk, treating COVID people in emergency rooms with COVID-positive people, etcetera. Within the next two weeks we should have enough vaccines to vaccinate about one third of that one third, if the federal government delivers as they say they will, and nursing homes and high risk health care workers, they are up at the top of the list of prioritizing people to get the vaccine.
Also, as I mentioned yesterday, we have about 30,000 data points on where COVID is coming from. Over 70 percent are coming from household small gatherings which are really beyond government control despite CDC saying you should only stay with your household. New York and about 20 other states have a rule of no more than 10, but it's really beyond the government's ability to enforce. But there are restrictions and bars and restaurants and gyms, there are capacity restrictions, there are protocol restrictions. I need the local governments to enforce those restrictions.
The lack of compliance is a problem. I understand COVID fatigue. I understand people are resentful of these regulations. I get it, but if you don't enforce the restrictions and if the restrictions are violated, then they're pointless and they have to be enforced and I need the local governments to do the enforcement of the restrictions.
Our largest two problems right now, 1) the 70 percent spread small gatherings aggravated by the holiday season, and 2) lack of compliance on the restrictions which is social fatigue, social resentment, social noncompliance and lack of government enforcement. You know, because the law. "Well, people don't like the law." You know, there are laws that I don't like but the law is the law, and the law has to be enforced. I need the local governments to do it because that is an increasing problem, the lack of people following restrictions and the lack of local governments enforcing the restrictions.
Now, people say, oh it's political, Democrat, Republican. This is a narrative that's out there, let's be honest. Certain publications are pro-Democrats or pro-Republican. They each make their case. This is not a political issue. New York State said no more than 10 people, but 20 other states said no more than 10 people. President Trump's CDC says no one beyond your household. So, the Republican rule, no more than anyone beyond your immediate household, is much stricter than this state's rules. President Trump's CDC just came out and said you should wear a mask indoors if it's not in your own home. That's a Republican administration that said that today.
Forget this narrative, this hyper-politicization. New York Post, we're Republicans. Democrats are bad. Democratic rules. If President Trump gets his CDC director, they are proposing restrictions much stricter than any restrictions we have imposed. If President Trump believes in the restrictions; if President Joe Biden believes in the restrictions, then stop with this political narrative dividing people because there is no politics. I understand everyone wants to do everything through a political lens.
We're in the holiday season. People don't follow the restrictions, they don't follow the CDC guidance, you're going to see an increase. One plus one equals two. One plus one, plus one equals three. One plus one, plus one, plus one equals four. Right? These are facts in life. I'm just giving you facts. I'm giving you data. These are numbers. There's no spin, there's no politics, there's no ideology. These are just numbers. Let's leave the politics at home.
At the same time, New York State still lowest infection rate in the nation, except Maine, Hawaii, Vermont. We're at 4.4. Above us is Massachusetts, 4.8. Above Massachusetts is Connecticut, 5.4. Above Connecticut, Alaska, 6.2. Maryland, 6.2; Delaware, 7.6; California, 7.6. Relative to the nation, we are doing very, very, very well. By our hospital capacity, we're doing well. By our ICU capacity, we're doing well. By the household spread and small gathering spread, that's our problem. People not following the restrictions, local governments not enforcing, that's a problem. That's where we are.
The vaccine is the weapon that ends the war. The question is how long it takes.