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March 26, 2020 - 4:44pm

Video: Gov. Cuomo's briefing for March 26, 2020

posted by Howard B. Owens in Andrew Cuomo, covid-19, coronavirus, news.

Video of this morning's briefing by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Accompanying press release:

  • The goal is having a 1,000-Plus Patient Overflow Facility in each NYC Borough and Downstate counties.
  • An additional 12,000 health professionals have signed up to volunteer as part of the State's Surge Healthcare Force since yesterday -- bringing total number of volunteers to more than 52,000;
  • More than 8,600 mental health professionals have now signed up to provide free online mental health services;
  • Confirms 6,448 additional coronavirus cases in New York State -- bringing statewide total to 37,258; new cases in 39 counties;

Governor Cuomo: "Our goal is to have a 1,000-plus overflow facility in each of the boroughs Downstate in the counties, Queens, Brooklyn, the New York City boroughs, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Long Island, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester, and Rockland, so every county has a 1,000-plus-bed overflow facility and that's what we're working on at the same time, as well as increasing the capacity of the existing hospital system.

"During this difficult time let's listen to the voices of our better angels as individuals, as families, as a community, and as a society. We're going to get through this. The only question is how we get through it and when we get through it. But let's make sure at the end of the day that we can say we are the better for it and our children are the better for it -- and I believe they will be."

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state is scouting additional new sites for temporary hospitals, with a goal of having a 1,000-plus patient overflow facility in each NYC borough as well as Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties.

These new additions, together with the temporary hospitals that are being built at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and locations at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury and the Westchester Convention Center, are aimed at building thousands of new beds to bolster existing hospital capacity, with the goal of being open to patients in early -- to mid-April. The state is also preparing college dormitories and hotels for emergency beds.

The Governor also announced that an additional 12,000 healthcare workers, including retirees and students, have signed up to volunteer to work as part of the state's surge healthcare force during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the total number of volunteers to more than 52,000.

Additionally, more than 8,600 mental health professionals, including individuals from other states, have now signed up to provide free online mental health services. New Yorkers can call the state's hotline at 1-844-863-9314 to schedule a free appointment.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Good morning. Top of the morning to you. The people with us today, to my right is James Malatras, president of the SUNY Empire College, to my left Melissa DeRosa, to her left, Robert Mujica, budget director, back of the room, my daughter Cara, who is doing a great job.

Let's talk about what's going on today. First, what I try to communicate in these briefings are the facts of the situation. Facts can be uplifting, they can be depressing at times, they can be confusing at times, but I think facts are empowering. You know, in a situation like this, not knowing the facts is worse because that's when feel out of control or when you feel that you're getting selective facts, or you're being deceived by the information you're getting. That is actually the worst situation.

So what I say to my people in every situation, just give me the facts first and then let me understand what the situation and the reality is and then we'll go from there, so that's what I try to do.

The facts on this situation are increasingly important on two levels: public health but also the economic facts. We've been focusing on the public health facts and the response of the public health system to the virus. More and more we now have to deal on two fronts. We have to deal with the public health situation but we also have to deal with the economic situation and I'll get to that in a moment.

Public health, we've had a two-prong agenda, which we've been pursuing aggressively. We still are flattening the curve so you reduce the flow into the hospital system. At the same time increase the hospital capacity. What we're looking for is not a reduction in in the number of cases. We're looking for a reduction in the rate of the increase in the number of cases. That's what comes first when you're starting to make progress. The rate of increase should reduce, as opposed to the number of absolute cases. So that's what we're looking for.

The optimum is when they talk about the apex of the curve is not to have an apex and that's what the flattening is, not to have that spike because the spike is where you would overwhelm the hospital systems that try to get down that rate of increase so you can actually handle it in the hospital system and that's what they talk about by the flattening of the curve.

Just as an aside, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been so kind and helpful to me. I speak to healthcare professionals all across the globe literally but Dr. Fauci I think is just brilliant at this and he has been so personally kind. I called him late at night. I called him in the middle of the night. I called him in the morning and he's been really a friend to me personally and the State of New York.

So this is all about getting that curve down and not overwhelming the hospital system. Almost any scenario that is realistic will overwhelm the capacity of the current health care system so little reality -- keep the curve down as low as you can but you cannot get fit curve down low enough so that you don't overwhelm the hospital capacity.

So any of these scenarios we have to increase the hospital capacity and that's why we're literally adding to the hospital capacity everywhere we can. That's what the Javits Hospital is about, that's what the Stony Brook hospital is about, that's what Westchester Convention Center, that's what the Old Westbury additional site is.

We're also scouting new sites now all across, primarily the downstate area of this state, for possible sites. Our goal is to have a 1,000-plus overflow facility in each of the boroughs downstate in the counties, Queens, Brooklyn, the New York City boroughs, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and Long Island, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester and Rockland, so every county has a 1000-plus-bed overflow facility and that's what we're working on at the same time, as well as increasing the capacity of the existing hospital system.

As we've said the hospitals have a 53,000-bed capacity. We're trying get to 140,000-bed capacity between the hospitals and the overflow facilities. We've mandated that the hospitals increased their capacity by 50 percent. We've asked them to try to increase it 100 percent but they have to increase it 50 percent. We're also scouting dorms, scouting hotels for emergency beds and that's going well.

Equipment and PPE is an ongoing issue. Right now we do have enough PPE for the immediate future. The New York City hospital system confirm that so we have enough in stock now for the immediate need. Ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. I didn't know what they were a few weeks ago besides the cursory knowledge. I know too much about ventilators now. We're still shopping for ventilators all across the country. We need more.

We have approved the technology that allows one ventilator to serve two patients -- what they call splitting. Which is when you add a second set of tubes to a ventilator to do two patients. It's not ideal, but we believe it's workable. We're also converting anesthesia machines to ventilators. We have a couple of thousand anesthesia machines in our hospitals and we're converting them to work as ventilators.

Why is there such a demand on ventilators? And where did this come from? It's a respiratory illness for a large number of people. So, they all need ventilators. Also, non-COVID patients are normally on ventilators for three to four days. COVID patients are on ventilators for 11 to 21 days. Think about that. So you don't have the same turnaround in the number of ventilators. If somebody is on ventilators for three or four days, that's one level of ventilators you need. If somebody is on for 11 to 21 days, that's a totally different equation and that's what we're dealing with. The high number of COVID patients and the long period of time that they actually need a ventilator.

We're also working on equalizing and distributing the load of patients. Right now, the number of cases is highest in Downstate New York. So we're working on a collaboration where we distribute the load between Downstate hospitals and Upstate hospitals. And we're also working on increasing the capacity for Upstate hospitals.

Shifting now to a totally different field: the economic consequences of what's going on which have just really gelled after what the federal government has done and we were waiting for the federal action to determine where we were from a point of revenues and economics.

What's happening to a state government -- any state. It's happening to a city government, is a double whammy. You have increased expenses because of the COVID virus and you have a tremendous loss of revenue because all those businesses are closed and all those people are out of work. People are out of work, they're not earning income, they're not paying income tax. Businesses are closed, they're not making money, they're not paying business revenue.

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