New York health officials are working on a winter plan against COVID-19 in anticipation of the increase in cases during the colder months.
During his press conference on the coronavirus on Thanksgiving Day, Governor Andrew Cuomo detailed what the novel plan will focus on.
“What we will develop this Thanksgiving weekend and next week, we will now be working on a winter plan,” Cuomo said. “All the world‘s experts say the same thing: this virus has phases, and as the phases change, the management plan must also change.”
Although the state needs to weigh the consequences of Thursday’s holiday on its plan, Cuomo said there are a number of theories about how severe the spike will be after Thanksgiving, but projections indicate a spike after Thanksgiving. “We see an increase in passengers on flights, we see an increase in people who travel by car and we know that the more social activity there is, the higher the infection rate,” he said.
According to the governor, the winter plan will continue with a hyper-localized approach in which certain areas are considered yellow, orange or red zones based on their infection rates. With each zone, restrictions will be placed on that particular area.
“During the winter plan we will stick with the hyperlocalized approach, as the objectives are extended, it minimizes the economic impact and emphasizes individual and community responsibility and responsibility. So that is working very well,” said the president.
The new winter plan would modify the rules for the red, orange and yellow zones. The idea is to impose restrictions based not only on infection rates, but also on the number of hospitalizations.
Cuomo said the state seeks to add factors to the yellow, orange and red zones in terms of the hospitalization rate and the availability of hospital beds, especially in the Intensive Care Unit.
“An infection rate in a place that has a shortage of hospital beds is more serious than an infection rate in a place that has fewer hospital beds. So that is one of the exercises we are going through now, ”he said.
Another component of the winter plan will be to keep schools open, especially in the elementary grades.
“High school, high school is a different situation,” Cuomo said.
The governor also explained that through the winter plan, the state aims to keep schools open based on a safe positivity rate.
“All the data indicate that the schools are safer than the surrounding community,” he emphasized.
Part of the equation for keeping schools open is ongoing testing in schools.
“We need a sustainable testing rate in schools. In other words, if we want to keep schools open, there has to be a level of testing that local school districts can provide for an extended period of time,” he said.
The governor said the state needs to balance the amount of testing in schools with the amount of testing in nursing homes, as well as the amount of testing for essential workers.
The third component of the plan will focus on developing a vaccine distribution plan that is “fair” and “effective.”
Although the plan is still under development, Cuomo said the state is in conversation with local governments to implement the new measures.
Cuomo revealed Thursday that an additional 6,933 positive COVID-19 cases were reported for a positive rate of 3.18%. The latest data also reveals a total of 3,056 coronavirus-related hospitalizations and 67 deaths.