Saturday, March 28 Update
NEW SATURDAY: As with most days, there has been a lot of news breaking today. I ask you to please read all the way through so you don’t miss anything.
Although it feels like we’ve been doing this for so much longer, it’s 27 days since New York’s first case of coronavirus, and 8 days since we began the workforce shutdown for non-essential workers. At this point, the outbreak has been going on for 12 weeks in China, 9 in South Korea, and 8 in Italy.
New York has taken every action that health professionals have recommended in order to slow the spread and flatten the curve, and our action now remains focused on marshalling the hospital capacity and the ventilators we need to take care of all the New Yorkers who will soon be needing higher levels of medical care to get through their illness.
We’ve done everything in our power to locate, purchase, and repurpose ventilators to prepare for the coming surge of need, but we still don’t have enough. Yesterday, the President invoked the Defense Production Act to force the private sector to produce the ventilators that are critical to survival for patients who require intensive care. This was the right move, and I applaud his decision to do this.
In the event that our efforts, and those of the federal government, are unable to meet the coming need for ventilators, the state is purchasing bag valve masks as a last resort. This would require a person standing at the bedside of a patient 24/7 to keep them breathing, which is obviously not a good option, but if we are faced with a decision of treating a person this way, or not treating them at all, we will do this as long as we have to.
The President approved Governor Cuomo’s request for four new emergency hospitals to be constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, and I’m immensely grateful for that. The new sites will be at Aqueduct in Queens, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, CUNY Staten Island, and the NY Expo Center in the Bronx, and together will add 4,000 beds to our hospital capacity. In addition, three existing facilities have opened up as medical centers to add an additional 695 beds to our capacity. On the advice of the state health commissioner, these new facilities will be designated only for coronavirus patients, to avoid putting non-corona patients at risk of infection.
The CDC has put out “crisis guidelines” on the use of personal protective equipment for medical professionals, which is causing a lot of concerns among doctors and nurses who are fearful that the guidelines will put them at risk. The NYS Department of Health and Commissioner Dr. Zucker are looking at those guidelines carefully, and if we don’t feel they’re good enough to protect our heroes, we will put our own guidelines in place.
As we expand our hospital capacity, we are also changing the way our medical facilities interoperate, and we are treating the entire state as a hospital system that works together. This means if there is extra capacity in one neighborhood and not enough in another, we’re going to shift the flow of new patients to where there’s capacity. It’s not the normal way of doing business, but it’s what we’ve got to do to make sure everyone gets the care they need.
On the experimental treatment front, so far 1,100 tests are being administered for the hydroxychloroquine/Zithromax treatment here in NY, and we are expecting results from those tests soon. Additionally, the state health department received FDA approval to begin unprecedented testing for antibodies to the coronavirus, which could lead to breakthroughs for treatment down the road.
As of today, 5,537 Nassau County residents have tested positive. Statewide, 52,318 New Yorkers have tested positive, with 7,328 people currently hospitalized, 1,755 ICU patients, and a total of 2,726 patients who have been discharged from the hospital and are recovering or fully resolved.
There is a hopeful piece of data to share today, and that’s the number of daily ICU and hospital admissions, which are both down, and I’m praying for that statistic to be a sign that we’re making progress with regard to protecting vulnerable populations. Tragically though, the loss of life continues to be a devastating reality in New York. As of today, 728 New Yorkers have lost their lives. In Nassau County, 8 more of our neighbors have succumbed; men and women ranging in age from 56-92 years old. This brings the total number lost in Nassau to 35.
New State Action
In order to prevent unnecessary exposure, the Presidential Primary, which had been scheduled for April, is being moved to June 23rd to coincide with the existing congressional and state legislative primaries.
In response to policies that were detrimental to families welcoming children into the world, the Governor issued an executive order to guarantee that women giving birth will be allowed to have someone with them while they give birth in public and private hospitals.
The state is asking pharmacies to offer delivery at no charge to customers to alleviate the lines we’ve been seeing in some communities, and those discussions are ongoing.
A special enrollment period is now open on the New York State of Health Marketplace. If you are uninsured or recently lost employer coverage, you can apply for a health plan today at nystateofhealth.com
How You Can Help
New York Blood Center is in urgent need of blood and plasma donors who have not been exposed to coronavirus. If you are considering donating, please call NYCB at 800-688-0900.
We're All In This Together
By now, it’s clear that our present situation isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. We all need to do our part, and we all must be flexible to meet the needs of the moment.
These are difficult times full of challenging circumstances, but lets try to make the most of our situation. Call your parents and make sure they know how much you love them. Call that friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Finish your honey-do list at home. Binge-watch that show everyone is talking about.
We aren’t in charge of the world around us right now, but we are in charge of how we respond to it, and how we cope with our own situation. And if it’s all just too much and you need help, that’s okay too, and there is help for you. Remember, no one is more than just a phone call away at any time, and there are thousands of New Yorkers who want to help: 844-863-9314.
As always, if there’s any way I can be of assistance to you and your family as we navigate these difficult times, please contact me at 516-746-5924 or [email protected].
Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being your Senator.