PIX11

Military medical teams arrive in NYC as omicron fades

CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn (PIX11) — Military medical teams arrived at Coney Island Hospital on Monday, and they will soon be helping in the Bronx.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries celebrated the military’s arrival during a news conference. “Because of the presence of the United States military at Coney Island Hospital, help is here,” he said.

However, the deployment comes as New York’s numbers have begun moving sharply downward — begging the question if this was too little too late? New York City Health + Hospitals anticipate certain pockets of the city will need help a while longer, even as the overall numbers improve citywide.

“There are a lot of people with congestive heart failure, underlying pulmonary disease,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, CEO of H+H. “If they get COVID they get pushed over the line and require hospitalization, and my doctors and nurses have been working without vacation, often on very long shifts, and we are very grateful now to have the support.”

Much of the focus with the omicron wave fading has been on how to handle the next phase of the pandemic — and if we’re going to continue to need booster shots.

“I think we are doing what we can to get people vaccinated and boosted here, but it’s basically putting a Band-Aid on what is a very big problem,” said CUNY Epidemiologist Dr. Denis Nash.

Nash said perhaps one day we will be in a place where there is an annual COVID shot, but we’re not there yet.

“There remains the possibility of surges, so even before it became a seasonal flu type thing, it may be less predictable,” he said. “So we might have surges at different times of the year.”

Nash said in his view the best thing the United States can do with the vaccine is to get shots in arms around the rest of the world to stop new, potentially more dangerous variants from popping up. The Biden administration has argued the United States can both boost Americans for the foreseeable future and help the rest of the world.

“I believe we can do both,” Nash said. “But I do not believe we have taken the steps needed to do both, and that includes reducing restrictions on how licensing and patterns can be used around the world.”