BROOKLYN — New York hospitals are once again under pressure as this latest COVID surge continues, with more than 67,000 people diagnosed Tuesday
There as been an increase of about 600 patients hospitalized with COVID each of the last three days. A number of large New York City hospitals are now limited in what they can do with low bed capacity.
COVID patients are showing up in droves to hospitals, creating a lot of strain at hospitals, including Kings Country, Brookdale, Harlem Hospital, and Elmhurst. All have less than 10% bed capacity remaining.
“We do have a significant number of people showing up to the hospital with COVID and a lot of them do get admitted,” said Dr. Adrian Popp, chair of Infectious Disease at Huntington Hospital.
“The staffing is also an issue because a lot of them have come down with the illness.”
Popp’s hospital has enough beds for now, but is seeing a sharp rise in cases, especially among the unvaccinated.
“We also have provisions made to open new beds, or even go further down to cancel certain elective procedures, so we have the ability for the current surge as the situation may arise,” he said.
At current pace, by next week New York could see as many hospitalizations, around 9,000, as last winter at the height of the delta surge. Two weeks more at the current pace and NY will be around 17,000, the peak of the first wave.
“We’ve been deploying individuals, extra staff, extra resources, calling in the National Guard when needed to keep occupancy in a place when we can handle,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said while visiting a vaccination site in the North Country.
Gov. Hochul spoke again about working to expand hospital capacity, enhanced masking, testing and vaccination. However, she did not ask New Yorkers to change their behavior.
“We are basically preparing for January surge, we know it’s coming,” she conceded.
Incoming Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, who’s also chaired the City Council’s Health Committee, has been outspoken about the need for more health safety measures throughout the pandemic. He said this is a critical time for action.
“I am not calling for severely restricted measures,” Levine said. “I am calling for more urgent messaging so that the public takes this seriously.”
Levine said the omicron variant continues to be more mild; however, with so many cases “that it is now resulting in a rapid increase of hospital admissions.”
When hospitals are strained, it’s more difficult to perform routine surgeries, or handle other every day trauma such as car crashes, heart attacks or a burst appendix.
Levine said this is a critical moment when people need to take simple acts, such as working from home if they can and cancelling New Years plans.
“We have a depleted and exhausted healthcare workforce, and many of them are out sick with COVID,” he said. “So we really do need to act to protect our hospital system. That is our ultimate goal.”
The latest numbers from NY Stat show hospitals have 6,173 COVID patients. More than 67,000 people tested positive Tuesday.