Cuomo warns of a spike in Covid by January and expects the primary doses of vaccine in New York by December 15th
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has been warning of the associated increase due to the holiday season for months, expects the recent surge in infections to last at least until January. What happens next?
In addition to strengthening hospital capacity as the state has faced the sharpest surge in viruses in months, Cuomo is focused on keeping schools open, running tests, and ensuring a smooth and efficient rollout of vaccines as they become available.
He said Wednesday that New York expects enough doses to vaccinate 170,000 people by December 15, assuming the process continues at its current pace, and Moderna will make about 40,000 initial assignments this month. Both vaccines require two doses. First aiders and long-term patients and staff have the highest priority.
According to Cuomo, giving these two doses to up to 20 million people is a Herculean challenge, compounded by high levels of skepticism about this particular vaccine and other issues affecting the fair distribution of a new vaccine.
According to the governor, experts say that 75 to 85 percent of the population will need to be vaccinated in order for the economy to return to a semblance of normalcy. Even if the state received 300,000 doses of vaccine by the end of the year and 300,000 people were willing to take them immediately, that’s only 1.5 percent of New York’s population. As Cuomo says, the introduction of the vaccine is the beginning of a long process. There is hardly a time to declare that “coronavirus is over”.
In many ways, this latest phase is the most dangerous for the United States yet. The White House Coronavirus Task Force told states earlier this week that “the risk of COVID for all Americans is at an all-time high,” according to a copy of the report received from NBC News.
This report gave a strong warning to those over 65 and those with pre-existing medical conditions. It urged them to limit unnecessary activities outside the home and reiterated the requests that New York’s top doctor made to the city on Tuesday.
It also contained a message for anyone under the age of 40: If you celebrated Thanksgiving outside of your own home, assume you got infected.
The New York City warning on Tuesday was specifically aimed at those over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions who are at greater risk of serious complications from COVID-19. A gloomy Dr. Dave Chokshi spoke of a “tragically well-known pattern” in which initial spikes are followed by an increase in hospital admissions – and more deaths if some patients do not recover.
The numbers behind the company are undeniable. No state has remained untouched by the recent wave. In New York City, about 1 in 134 people tested positive for COVID-19 in November, almost three times as many as in October. Cuomo reported nearly 9,000 new cases as well as 69 COVID deaths on Wednesday. Nationwide hospital admissions are at their highest level since May 27 (3,924), while hospital admissions in the city rose more than 120 percent in the past three weeks.
Cuomo has triggered a new hospital emergency protocol where hospitals are on varying levels of alert in each of the state’s 10 regions. Electoral operations will be banned in Erie County from Friday and could be at risk elsewhere.
The burden on hospitals was the national trend with a seasonal increase in infections – and the dreaded so-called “post-Thanksgiving” effect has not really occurred yet. Thanksgiving wasn’t just a single holiday. Cuomo said Wednesday it had started a 37-day period of increased social activity and increased risk.
“You will see the surge continue throughout the holiday. You will see it continue through January 2nd and then the delay for testing and hospitalization that will take you through mid-January,” Cuomo said. “The question is how fast the cases are increasing. There is no predetermined fate. It is a pure function of social action.”
With about two-thirds of the new cases associated with private house gatherings, officers’ ability to carry out enforcement effectively is weakening. Compliance has been a problem to varying degrees across the tri-state area. Tracking contacts has been a particular challenge in New Jersey, where infection rates have increased.
New Jersey has also seen the number of hospitalizations soar, reaching its highest level since mid-May. The state reported the highest daily COVID count since May 4 on Tuesday (90), a sobering statistic that is likely to continue to rise.
Further restrictions are possible in the Garden State due to an expected increase in addition to the already ongoing increase. Earlier this week, Governor Phil Murphy announced that he would end all indoor youth sports starting December 6 and lower the caps for outdoor collecting to 25, a cut of 95 percent in less than a month before this fall the next Day corresponds. Christmas parties with non-immediate household members are discouraged.
Murphy has said he wants to avoid another draconian shutdown for New Jersey but left the option on the table. If the situation compels his hand, he says he won’t hesitate to make more serious changes to the state COVID protocol.
A month ago, Murphy expressed concern that several New Jersey counties were reporting at least 100 new cases of COVID each day. On Wednesday, five saw at least 300; Three of them – Middlesex, Passaic, and Hudson – saw well over 400. The nationwide positivity rate rose to 13.68 percent, Murphy said.
“Everyone wants to know when this will be over and when they can put their masks in a drawer and meet again freely with family and friends. Our daily numbers give us the answer: not in brief,” added the governor. “There’s a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the increase in the number of cases and the increase in the number of patients in our hospitals. It’s a simple math.”
The general consensus expectation is that these trends will continue into the new year. Many health experts fear that the so-called post-Thanksgiving effect could be catastrophic given the nationwide trends that have been spinning for months regardless of a vacation threat. Dr. Anthony Fauci says travel and collective COVID fatigue will trigger a secondary surge on top of the current intense surge.
He warned that the next 30 days will be a “precarious risk” time as people start shopping for Christmas gifts in stores and throwing New Year’s Eve parties.
Aid in the form of vaccines is looming on the horizon. Late Tuesday, an advisory group from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities and nursing homes to be the first to receive the vaccine as soon as it is used. Approximately 24 million Americans make up these highest priority groups.