learn about COVID-19, its impact, and what you can do about it.
The state of New York is known for being the first major epicenter of COVID-19 in the US. At the peak of the virus’ spread in New York, there were about 9,000 to 10,000 new cases daily. However, New York has done very well to flatten the curve of the virus and it is one of the very few states that have not seen an increase in cases over the last two weeks. As of July 10, 2020, it has only 790 new COVID-19 cases.
New York’s success is largely dependent on the state’s persistent and strategic effort to control the spread of the disease, and their cooperation with other states and with the federal government.
To control the spread of the disease, New York went all-out. They took a multi-pronged approach to this: they expanded their treatment facilities, increased their staffing, went the extra mile to get funding from organizations, effectively managed their supply of PPE and ventilators, and started research programs to discover treatment strategies for COVID as it was a novel disease to ensure that they were able to treat the disease and manage its spread. They also took strict measures to control the disease through social distancing, a two-month lockdown, wearing masks in public, a careful four-phased reopening, and firm requirements for people entering the state. Furthermore, they cooperated with many other states and the federal government to ensure funding and a successful reopening.
New York took quick action to ensure success in fighting COVID-19. They expanded their treatment facilities by building new ICU beds in existing hospitals and creating field hospitals, such as the 2500 bed Javits Center. They even set up a treatment facility in Central Park. New York’s two main hospital systems, NYC Health and Hospitals (H+H) and Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), joined forces to share COVID patients and equipment to have a more effective response to the crisis. This union of the hospitals enabled New York to effectively manage their supply of PPE and equipment; Governor Cuomo termed this the “surge and flex” system. To increase their healthcare staffing, New York asked for volunteers within the state and out of state. 90,000 volunteers from across the country answered the call and went into action. New York also needed more contact tracers to reach out to people who may have been exposed. They recruited 22,000 more contact tracers to boost their workforce. They also sought help from the federal government to boost their supply of PPE and ventilators, and Governor Cuomo even procured masks from China because the supply was scarce. They also cooperated with six other states in the region to buy PPE. This method of going the extra mile and this dogged persistence in fighting the disease was one reason New York was so successful against COVID-19. Moreover, many hospitals in New York contributed to the research on potential treatment strategies for COVID, which included remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, steroids, IL1 and IL6 inhibitors, and more. Finally, New York did a lot of testing. As of July 6, 2020, New York has the fourth-most COVID-19 tests per 100,000 people, just behind Alaska, Connecticut, and Louisiana. In addition, New York has consistently been one of the states with the highest testing rates, enabling it to find and isolate new cases rapidly.
Additionally, New York quickly took action to put strict COVID measures in place. On March 7, Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency. On March 12, he banned gatherings of more than 500 people, and stated that gatherings with less than 500 people had to cut their capacity by half. He started “New York PAUSE” on March 22. This was a full statewide lockdown, lasting 78 days in total. Multiple major events were cancelled, including the New York Democratic Primary and the Regents Examinations, and schools were eventually closed until the end of the school year. On April 15, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order ordering all New York State residents to wear face masks in public. In addition, there were very strict social distancing guidelines, and violating social distancing could have resulted in a $1,000 fine. On May 7, New York PAUSE was extended to June 6, but counties would be allowed to start Phase 1 of reopening on May 15 if they qualified for it. The reopening was broken into four phases, and counties had to meet all of the requirements, which were very strict. Phase 1 reopened construction, manufacturing, and wholesale supply-chain businesses, as well as many retailers for curbside pickup, in-store pickup, or drop-off. Agriculture, fishing, hunting, and forestry businesses were also allowed to reopen. It began on May 15 for most counties, and June 8 for New York City. Phase 2 reopened offices, outdoor dining, places of worship (at 25% capacity), storefront retailers and businesses, finance and insurance, administrative support, and real-estate and rental-leasing industries. Salons and barbershops also reopened at limited capacity, as were car dealerships. Malls remained closed. Phase 2 began on June 8 for the earliest counties and June 22 for New York City. Phase 3 reopened restaurants and other food-service businesses for dine-in service at 50% capacity; however, this does not apply to New York City. Diners must be separated by at least six feet or by a barrier, and must wear masks until they sit down. Gatherings of up to 25 people are now allowed. Phase 3 started on June 16 for the earliest counties and July 6 for New York City. Phase 4 reopened schools and low-risk arts, entertainment and recreation businesses - all with social distancing required - but did not reopen movie theaters, shopping malls, or gyms. Gatherings of up to 50 people are also now allowed. Phase 4 began on June 26 for the earliest counties.
To prevent new cases from other states, on June 25, Governor Cuomo issued a travel ban to prevent people from states with high COVID infection rates from entering New York, unless they self-quarantine for 14 days and don’t show symptoms. The list of states currently includes Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. Each traveler must submit a form to the airport; if they do not do so, there will be an immediate summons and a $2000 fine.
As shown above, New York’s COVID-19 success has largely been because of their relentless effort to control the spread of the disease, and their cooperation with other states and with the federal government. They have gone above and beyond to make sure that they can control the virus, to ensure that they can stop the spread of the virus, and to guarantee that they can prevent a second wave of the virus. This has paid dividends, as they are one of the few states who have not experienced a second wave of the virus.
- Written by Aberam Sriganesh
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