What Gov. Cuomo’s ‘surge and flex’ hospital plan means for COVID-19 red zone designations

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a change to New York state’s COVID-19 micro-cluster zone designation strategy during a briefing in New York City Monday.

Whereas previous zone designations were based on seven-day rolling average positivity rates in a specific area, and new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, the new format dictates a red zone designation based on a region’s “critical hospital capacity.”

The governor announced that regions that reach critical hospital capacity will be designated as a red zone. In this definition, critical hospital capacity is “if a region’s seven-day average hospitalization growth rate shows that the region will reach 90% within the next three weeks,” according to the governor’s office.

A red-zone designation would put restrictions in place similar to the NY PAUSE shutdown from the spring, when all non-essential businesses were closed. Under current guidelines, red zone restrictions would include:

  • Non-essential gatherings prohibited
  • Less than 25% capacity, or 10 person maximum, for religious worship services
  • All non-essential business are closed
  • Takeout or delivery only for dining
  • Schools closed, remote-only instruction

This designation policy goes into effect after the implementation of the state’s new “surge and flex” program.

The state’s “surge and flex” protocol mandates all hospitals begin expanding their bed capacity by 25%, to further prepare hospitals for a future COVID-19 surge. Hospitals had previously been preparing plans for this action as part of the governor’s winter COVID Plan.

Additionally, Gov. Cuomo issued a call to all retired doctors and nurses urging them to return to service if they are able to do so. A registration will be renewed at no cost for an individual who completes the questionnaire through the volunteer portal, set up by the New York State Department of Health.

“Right now, the data is showing us that the highest percent of hospitalization is actually Upstate: Finger Lakes, that’s Monroe, Rochester area,” Gov. Cuomo said Monday. “Buffalo, Western New York, Central New York. You come down to New York City, Long Island, we actually have a lower rate hospitalized than upstate, which is an exact flip of where we were in the spring. In the spring, we had a largely downstate situation and upstate the situation was much better.”

According to the governor’s office, the Finger Lakes region has the highest percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations versus regional population, but more hospital beds currently available, thanks to larger hospital capacity than other regions.

Per the aforementioned 90% critical hospital capacity, the Finger Lakes region would have to be on track to lower hospital capacity by 20% for the red zone designation to be initiated.

RegionCOVID Patients Currently in Hospital in RegionCOVID Hospitalizations as Percent of Region PopulationPercent of Hospital Beds Available in Region
Capital Region2200.02%26%
Central New York2960.04%26%
Rochester & Finger Lakes5450.05%30%
Long Island7020.03%18%
Mid-Hudson6180.03%25%
Mohawk Valley1460.03%26%
New York City14160.02%19%
North Country380.01%46%
Southern Tier1340.02%39%
Western New York4870.04%28%
NYS TOTAL4,6020.02%23%

The regional ICU bed capacity and occupancy numbers are as follows:

RegionTotal ICU Beds in RegionTotal Occupied ICU Beds in RegionPercent of ICU Beds Available in Region
Capital Region31416744%
Central New York29018933%
Rochester & Finger Lakes65924662%
Long Island80157925%
Mid-Hudson72836848%
Mohawk Valley1319926%
New York City2290168727%
North Country673354%
Southern Tier1298235%
Western New York55929350%
NYS TOTAL5,9683,74337%

Monday’s statewide COVID-19 data is summarized briefly below:

  • Patient Hospitalization – 4,602 (+160)
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 530
  • Hospital Counties – 55
  • Number ICU – 872 (+22)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 477 (+13)
  • Total Discharges – 88,263 (+314)
  • Deaths – 80
  • Total Deaths – 27,232

Each region’s seven-day average percentage of positive test results reported over the last three days is as follows:

REGIONFRIDAYSATURDAYSUNDAY
Capital Region4.32%4.50%4.60%
Central New York5.48%5.19%5.55%
Finger Lakes6.56%6.80%7.01%
Long Island5.20%5.38%5.50%
Mid-Hudson5.77%5.97%6.03%
Mohawk Valley6.09%6.35%6.53%
New York City3.99%4.01%4.04%
North Country4.12%4.39%4.50%
Southern Tier2.63%2.33%2.09%
Western New York7.44%7.40%7.34%

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