As the virus rages in the United States, New York is guarding against a further rise

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As the coronavirus rages out of control in other parts of the United States, New York offers an example after taming the country’s most deadly epidemic this spring – while trying to prepare for a new wave would arise.New York’s early experience is a ready-to-use model for states that are now overwhelmed by the disease. It could also be useful at home, as the region is preparing for a potential second wave of infection which experts say will likely happen at some point.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has offered counseling, respirators, masks, gowns and medication to states facing peak cases and hospitalizations and, in some places, an increase in deaths. Some health care workers are traveling to other states to help fight the virus, by reversing the influx that provided New York hospitals with the much-needed relief just a few months ago.

At the same time, the Democratic Governor has ordered travelers from more than a dozen states to quarantine for 14 days, while urging New Yorkers not to stop wearing masks or social distancing.

However, with the virus spreading in the South and West, Cuomo warned on Friday that he would eventually reappear in New York.

“We are doing everything we can,” he said on WAMC radio, but “I can feel it coming.”

A widely cited University of Washington model does not anticipate peaks – at least during the period of November 1 – in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, whose Democratic governors coordinated the quarantines of travelers and, earlier, some closure policies. But that doesn’t mean that the densely populated three-state area is in the clear.

“We expect the virus to return to all of these states,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the university’s Institute for Metrology and Health Assessment. “The question is a question of timing. ”

As cases increased in March and April, New York became the country’s coronavirus nightmare, with New York City at the heart of it. Statewide, more than 18,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized at some point in April. Daily deaths peaked at 799 in April and totaled more than 24,000.

Now, as the states from Florida to Texas to California see new confirmed cases skyrocket, hospitals fill up and the daily death toll reaches new records, the numbers have plummeted in the region. three states. New York City reported five new deaths across the state on Sunday, while hospitals treated approximately 800 coronavirus patients.

While New York has gradually reopened, it is also preparing to handle a new wave if it occurs.

After health workers in New York City and elsewhere faced shortages of masks, gowns and other protective gear this spring, Cuomo said he would order hospitals to have a 90-day supply. New York mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would build its own supply of ventilators, protective equipment and coronavirus test kits, identifying local suppliers and manufacturers rather than turning to federal authorities or world markets.

“We have learned a hard lesson that we must create, and we must protect ourselves,” said de Blasio, a Democrat, who also said that the city would store up to 18 million stable meals.

Others are also preparing.

Mount Sinai Hospital has grown from 94 intensive care beds to 235 and converted an atrium and hall into rooms for less critical patients at the height of the crisis. Now he’s in the process of developing a playbook on coronaviruses, so clinicians will immediately have instructions, said Dr. Roopa Kohli-Seth, who oversees intensive care.

New York nursing homes, which have lost more than 6,400 residents due to the virus, have installed wings to separate the infected residents. They are now required to test staff members weekly and to have at least two months of protective equipment. And they no longer agree to recover COVID-19 patients from hospitals, as the state had originally ordered them to do. They admitted more than 6,300 patients before Cuomo reversed the policy under pressure on May 10.

“We know how to fight this virus now. We have the resources, ”said Stephen Hanse, who heads a New York nursing home association.

The health care system as a whole is better prepared now, said Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University.

“The difference now is that we know the ability of this virus to spread quickly to cause disease, its impact on the health system and our needs in terms of tests, personal protective equipment, ventilators – all the other things we didn’t know six months ago, “said Lipkin, who works with the city to test hundreds of thousands of people a week.

New York took a relatively slow reopening – and slowed down, postponing the resumption of indoor dining in New York, after cases started to increase elsewhere. Thousands of contact tracers have been hired to try to control the virus. And wearing masks has been prevalent in the country’s largest city since a city recommendation and a state requirement in April, while some other states have recently started telling residents to put on masks in public.

However, with more New Yorkers leaving and traveling on public transportation, and police taking a no-action approach to enforce mask and distance rules after several violent clashes videotaped, experts fear the number of cases inevitably increases.

“I don’t know how long this progress will last,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative at Columbia University.

Rob Griffin, a professor of emergency management at the University of Albany, said that the state should lay down rules for any future closings, “so you don’t have to make a decision on the fly.”

Some experts have said that New York did not advance early enough. New York City’s massive public school system closed on March 16 and a statewide home stay order came into effect on March 22.

If such measures had been implemented before March 8, researchers at Columbia University estimate that approximately 17,500 lives could have been saved.

New York City’s elected spokesperson Jumaane Williams said the city and state’s response to the crisis was frustrating and blind to predictable inequality.

Black and Hispanic residents of the city were hospitalized and died from the virus at more than twice the rate of whites and Asians, and people in very poor neighborhoods twice the rate of residents of wealthy areas.

Williams says the closure of New York has been too slow and limited, leaving too many workers – including many people of color – forced to go to jobs that may not have been able to provide equipment. protection. This cannot happen again, said the Democrat.

“The great thing for me is to close quickly, open slowly and make sure there is infrastructure for the communities we know will be the most affected,” said Williams. “We have learned lessons that we did not need to learn, and I hope other people will too.” ”

By JENNIFER PELTZ, MICHAEL R. SISAK and MARINA VILLENEUVE for AP

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