The latest COVID spike has not flooded New York City hospitals like before
The soaring number of COVID-19 cases, long lines of test lines, and event cancellations may seem familiar, but so far, New York City hospitals have not seen the surge that swept emergency rooms in the early stages of the pandemic.
The state reported on Saturday that nearly 22,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday — surpassing the record set the day before for the highest number of new cases in a single day since testing was widely available. More than half of the positive results occurred in the city.
The Rockets cancelled the remaining performances of the Radio City’s Christmas Wonders on Friday, citing “increasing challenges brought about by the pandemic.” Some test sites in the city have their lines extended to the neighborhood, and home tests are still difficult to obtain. Or more expensive than usual.
But city data shows that so far, the average level of new hospitalizations and deaths is much lower than the peak in spring 2020, and even lower than the level this time last year, in the winter wave when vaccination has just begun.
According to Dr. Eric Legome, who oversees two of the network’s seven EDs, the number of patients admitted to the emergency department of the Mount Sinai Health System has increased by about 20% in recent days, including various diseases. But at least so far, “we have seen treatments and releases” of coronavirus patients are far more numerous than earlier waves, he said.
Legome said that many people are looking for tests to help relieve mild or moderate symptoms, or monoclonal antibody therapy, but few people need oxygen or hospitalization. He operates ED on the western side of Mount Sinai and the morning edge of Mount Sinai.
The number of hospitalizations and deaths tends to rise and fall within weeks of cases. But Dr. Fritz François, director of hospital operations at New York University Lange Health Hospital, said that so far, “we have actually seen a different situation from the previous surge.”
He said that, on the one hand, COVID-19 patients go home faster.
The number of COVID-19 patients in NYU Langone has increased slightly, and there are currently about 80 patients in several hospitals near New York City and Long Island. François said this is about 80% less than the figure at the top of the wave last winter.
He said that New York University Langone continues to update its plan to deal with the surge, but this preparation is just the “new normal.”
In the huge Northwell Health system, “if this happens, we are ready to do it again”, but vaccination and the past two years of experience make the current situation different, Dr. John D’Angelo said, integrated operations.
“I believe we will get through the storm, but there are some challenges this time, and I think we have to think about it carefully,” he said.
Among them: In the case of many hospitals across the country with insufficient staff due to various reasons, with the spread of omicron, more employees may be born sick or be quarantined. Northwell laid off about 1,400 people, or about 2% of its employees, earlier this fall because they refused to get vaccinated. Nevertheless, D’Angelo stated that it has enough staff to meet its anticipated demand.
Northwell is the state’s largest private healthcare system, with nearly 22 hospitals in New York City and surrounding areas. As of Friday, the system has approximately 400 COVID-19 positive patients—up from the approximately 300 a few weeks ago. But it’s only a small fraction of the 1,350 points last January, not to mention the 3,500 points in the early spring of 2020.
D’Angelo said that about a quarter of people were vaccinated, up from 10-15% a month ago, mainly people with underlying health problems.
The New York Presbyterian Hospital system stated that its COVID-19 admissions have increased “slowly but steadily”, but all of its hospitals are operating normally.