The president of one of New York’s largest hospital systems has said that the Omicron surge is not straining his facilities, even as 8 percent of the NYPD had to call in sick on Tuesday and a major urgent care center announced it would have to shut 13 of its locations due to overwhelming demands for tests.
‘We’re doing very, very well, very manageable. There’s no crisis,’ Michael Dowling, the CEO of Northwell Health, told CNN‘s John Berman on Tuesday.
He noted that there are now 460 patients in its 23 hospitals, which is less than 10 percent of its overall capacity. But at the same time last year, during COVID’s second wave, the hospital system saw nearly 1,000 cases, and back during the first wave it had 3,500 patients.
‘So when you look at the numbers today, they’re relatively modest,’ Dowling said, adding that the numbers went up after Thanksgiving and they are expecting more cases following the holiday season.
‘But it’s all manageable, we are able to deal with it,’ he said, ‘and I think it’s time for people to be a little more calm and rational.
‘While the positivity rate in the community is increasing, that does not immediately mean there’s an increase in hospitalizations,’ Dowling explained, adding that 80 percent of those hospitalized with COVID at Northwell facilities are not vaccinated.
As of Monday, 4,328 COVID patients were hospitalized throughout New York State, with about every 20 out of 100,000 COVID patients needing to be hospitalized as the state broke its own record for the fourth straight day and logged 23,391 cases in 24 hours on Monday evening– about 1,000 more than the 22,478 cases reported the day before.
In New York City, there were 3,794 confirmed COVID cases on Wednesday, with a positivity rate of 6.96 percent, as nearly 80 percent of residents have had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and 71.4 percent are fully vaccinated.
There was a 2.1 percent hospitalization rate throughout the city on Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a news conference.
Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling said on Tuesday the system’s 23 hospitals have not seen a strain from COVID patients as the COVID positivity rate increases throughout New York
Dowling reiterated to CNN’s John Berman that the Omicron variant is not as virulent as other strains of COVID
There were 4,328 COVID patients hospitalized with COVID throughout New York State on Monday
The mayor announced on Wednesday the city is opening an additional seven city-run testing sites, bringing the total up to 119 testing sites throughout the five boroughs.
At the same time, he said, the city is opening five mobile distribution sites – one in each borough – to hand out rapid at-home tests – something residents have had trouble finding in stores over the past week, and Dr. Michael Katz, the president and CEO of NYC Health and Hospitals, said the city will expand the hours of its testing facilities from 7am to 7pm.
Senator Chuck Schumer also said at the news conference he is asking FEMA officials for an additional 100 new testing sites with more tests sent to people’s home, saying: ‘Testing is one of the best ways to fight this virus.’
The announcement came as urgent care company CityMD announced it would close 13 of its clinics in the city starting on Wednesday due to staffing concerns.
‘As so many of you are aware, most CityMD locations are operating at full capacity, doing our best to meet the urgent care needs of the people of New York and New Jersey,’ the company announced on its website.
‘Continuing to provide these services to the community is a top priority; however, our physicians and teammates are also a priority.
‘To preserve our ability to staff our sites, we are temporarily closing certain locations.’
Those include three each in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, and four in Manhattan.
A Manhattan-based nurse previously told DailyMail.com that patients hoping for COVID tests waited up to six hours at the CityMD Urgent Care on East 14th Street on Monday.
An operator for NYC Health + Hospital’s COVID Hotline couldn’t predict wait times at any of its more than 50 COVID testing centers across the five boroughs, but said that ‘hundreds and thousands of people’ were lined up throughout the city on Monday afternoon.
‘Make sure to dress super warmly and make sure to pack a dinner,’ COVID Hotline operator Nathan Wilkes suggested those planning to join the staggering queues in the coming days.
The department of Health and Hospitals has now set up a site to monitor the wait times at each of the city-run sites, with officials saying on Wednesday the wait times are coming down.
The positivity rate in New York City was 6.96 percent on Wednesday. Here, people checked their rapid COVID test results outside of a facility on the Lower East Side
Throughout Manhattan, people lined up for hours to get COVID tests as the Omicron variant continues to spread
Many residents have had difficulty finding at-home testing kits, adding to the long lines. Spencer Savitz is pictured here getting tested for COVID on the Lower East Side
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data Monday night showing that the Omicron variant now accounts for 73 percent of U.S. COVID cases. The agency also revised last week’s data, increasing the share of the variant from 2.9 percent to 12.6 percent.
This means the prevalence of the variant jumped six fold week-over-week. It has overtaken the Delta variant, which had been the nation’s dominant strain since July.
But on Tuesday, Dowling reiterated the idea that the Omicron variant, which is now the predominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States, is not as virulent as other strains even if it is more contagious.
‘If people are not that sick and they’re not in the hospital, you’re building up herd immunity,’ Dowling said, noting: ‘We’re going to have to deal with this over the next couple of months.’
Urgent care facility CityMD announced on its website it would close 13 of its sites due to staffing concerns
The company said many of its facilities were working at full capacity in New York and New Jersey
The closures affect three clinics each in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, and four in Manhattan
Meanwhile, nearly 8 percent of the NYPD’s workforce was out sick on Tuesday, many with COVID symptoms, according to the New York Post.
Of the 2,712 members, or 7.8 percent, of the department out of work, the Post reports, 342 were confirmed COVID positive.
Public Service Area 9 in Queens was hit hardest, with 67 out of 192 personnel out sick on Tuesday, 28 of whom tested positive for COVID.
In total, the Post reports, the police department has seen 473 total COVID cases so far in December – the most since March when 695 infections were reported.
Still, the number of cops out sick pales in comparison to the early days of the pandemic, when about 20 percent were out of work in April 2020. That same month, the Post reports, the NYPD reported its highest number of COVID cases at 2,846.
About 86 percent of all NYPD workers are fully vaccinated in accordance with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandate.
The mayor did not seem too concerned by the large numbers of people out sick, telling a reporter at his news conference on Wednesday: ‘We’re going to see a high number of people out sick, but everything is going to keep functioning.
‘It’s going to be a tough few weeks, but we’re going to get through it.’
The mayor has not yet made a decision about the annual Times Square ball drop, but he told CNN on Monday he is weighing whether to impose more safety restrictions on the New Years’ Eve celebration.
‘We’re looking to add additional measures to make it even safer,’ the mayor said, adding: ‘Were still in discussions.’
‘The goal of course is to keep it going,’ de Blasio said.
At the moment, the ball drop will require all attendees, unless they have a medical exemption to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before hand, which would have been Friday. It does not require boosters or masks for vaccinated people.
The mayor said he will announce any changes by Christmas, noting: ‘If we need to make any other modifications, obviously, working very closely with our health care leaders we’ll decide that n the course this week, we’ll announce it before Christmas.’
At last year’s ball drop, the city and the Times Square Alliance held a fully masked celebration without the huge crowds revelers are used to seeing each year.
Source: Daily Mail