NY Tells Hospitals to Boost Beds, Could Curb Indoor Dining

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo during his daily briefing, Dec. 7, 2020. (Office of the Governor)

Hospitals across New York were ordered Monday to add 25% more beds to handle growing numbers of coronavirus patients, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned he would curtail indoor dining if hospitalizations keep rising.

Over 4,600 COVID-19 patients are now hospitalized statewide, double the amount reported Nov. 18. Cuomo said the state isn’t yet at a “critical” level of COVID-19 hospitalizations, but that the continued growth is worrying.

“I think that’s the ultimate bottom line: Can your hospitals handle the increase until you start to see a reduction from the vaccinations?” Cuomo said at a briefing in New York City.

The Democratic governor said he’ll shut down schools, nonessential businesses and all restaurant table service in regions that are on track to hit 90% of hospital capacity within three weeks, based on a seven-day average.

Meanwhile, Cuomo said he’d wait five days to see whether hospitalizations keep rising before he might rein in indoor dining — potentially banning it in New York City and limiting it elsewhere to 25% capacity, down from 50%.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that indoor dining is high-risk “when distancing is not maintained and consistent use of face masks is not possible.”

Cuomo and public health experts expect hospitalization rates to continue rising until at least mid-January.

“You’d expect the effect of the Thanksgiving surge would probably be another week or a week and a half from now,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, who joined Cuomo’s briefing by livestream Monday.

Fauci noted that after upticks in cases, it can take over two weeks for hospitalizations to increase.

Worried about potential hospital staffing shortages, Cuomo urged retired healthcare workers to volunteer to help provide as many as 20,000 extra nurses and doctors.

New York recorded over 64,000 new coronavirus cases over the past seven days, up 80% from two weeks ago.