During a Wednesday press conference, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said social distancing will be key to making sure state hospitals can handle the apex of cases expected in late April.
“This all comes down to at the apex, can your hospital system manage the volume of people coming into the hospital system? That’s all this is about at the final analysis,” he said.
He presented one model that showed a need of 110,000 “COVID beds” and 37,000 ventilators by the end of April, if there is minimal impact from social distancing. Those numbers drop to 75,000 and 25,000 respectively based on higher compliance with social distancing.
The governor said that 391 New Yorkers died within the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 1,941 deaths and 83,000 cases.
He also showed a projection that predicts a total of 16,000 will die in the state before the population achieves “herd immunity.”
“We’re still looking for the curve to straighten, we’re still looking at where we see a plateau,” Cuomo said. “The line is still going up.”
State hospitals will begin to coordinate more, Cuomo said, by sharing supplies, medical personnel, and eventually moving patients from hard-hit areas to less-burdened hospitals.
Cuomo made official an earlier warning that he’d close playgrounds and public sports facilities in New York City if people didn’t voluntarily avoid them.
“I warned people that if they didn’t stop the density and the games in the playgrounds — you can’t play basketball, you can’t come in contact with each other — that we would close the playgrounds,” he said.
The governor noted that he is still open to people returning to work before the virus has completely run its course, assuming widespread testing is available to ensure status.
“My opinion is that the best way to do that is to come up with a rapid testing procedure,” he said.
Biotechnology company Regeneron is providing 500,000 testing kits to New Yorkers free of charge, according to Cuomo.