City urges older New Yorkers to stay indoors as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

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By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi issued an advisory on Tuesday urging older New Yorkers at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 to stay indoors as much as possible and not allow guests into their homes as cases of the virus continue to grow.

“New York City is experiencing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” the commissioner said in a press release. “As such, additional actions are warranted to protect public health, moderate case growth, and preserve hospital capacity.”

City Hall reported 1,685 new cases of the virus on Sunday, a daily positivity rate of 5.72% and a daily positivity rate based on a seven-day rolling average of 4.14%. In addition, 132 New Yorkers were hospitalized with suspected COVID-19 with 58% testing positive for the virus.

The guidance comes a day after Governor Andrew Cuomo directed hospitals to take emergency precautions and to come up with plans to increase capacity by 50% as well as identify retired doctors and nurses to work in facilities and to confirm 90-day stockpiles of personal protective equipment. Cuomo also warned that he could impose another PAUSE order as he did in the spring if hospitals become overwhelmed.

State officials reported 3,774 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday – 242 more than the day before–and a statewide daily positivity rate of 4.96% and 66 deaths due to the virus.

But the advisory is merely guidance, as Cuomo pointed out.

“There is no restriction for people over 70 leaving their homes,” Governor Cuomo told reporters on Tuesday. “New York City offered guidance and advice, which is the same advice and guidance we have been issuing and they have been issuing and every health expert has been issuing since this started… you are not imprisoned in your home.”

The city’s advisory allows for elderly New Yorkers to continue to leave their homes for essential travel like going to work, school, the grocery store, pharmacy, or seeking medical care. The tightened guidance is also recommended for household members and caregivers. In a release, the commissioner states elderly and high-risk New Yorkers can still allow caregivers to enter their homes.

None of the city’s 11 public hospitals are currently overwhelmed, according to CEO of NYC Health and Hospitals Dr. Mitchell Katz, with Intensive Care Units two-thirds full. In addition, he said all public hospitals have a three-month supply of personal protective equipment and “more than enough ventilators.”

Dr. Katz added that colleagues at Greater New York Hospital Association told him that the city’s private hospitals are currently prepared to take more patients if needed.

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