Let’s review the last nine months. We’ve suffered through a deadly 100-year pandemic. Nearly 250,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. The national economy is close to ruin. Local economies are in tatters.
The coronavirus is giving an encore performance in New York, where new restrictions loom and the health care system is showing new signs of strain.
The state may limit indoor dining and set a threshold to shutter nonessential businesses in regions threatening to reach critical hospital capacity, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
Nonessential businesses will be forced to close in any of the state’s 10 regions if its seven-day average hospitalization rate shows the region will reach critical mass, or 90% of available beds, within three weeks.
If a region’s hospitalization rate does not stabilize within the five-day period, indoor dining will be reduced to 25% of capacity down from 50% throughout upstate New York. That could spell disaster for restaurants struggling to survive throughout the GLOW region and beyond.
The new indoor dining restrictions come on the heels of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines Friday, identifying indoor venues such as restaurants as high-risk scenarios to transmit and contract COVID-19.
The state Health Department now requires New York’s 215 private and public hospitals to increase bed capacity by 25%. Hospitals increased bed capacity by 50% in the spring in preparation for a virus outbreak that would overwhelm the health system. The additional 25% will remain in reserve.
If hospital capacity becomes taxed, this region will be closed down. We will have no choice. The hospitals can’t be overwhelmed and neither can the people working in them.
State health officials plan to monitor the hospitalization rate over the next five days with the hope the rate will stabilize. But the way the virus is spreading, that doesn’t seem likely.
We don’t want to go through another round of shutdowns, restrictions and massive unemployment that we endured in the spring and summer. Economically and psychologically, we are hovering on the edge. We have to do all we can to change, or at least check, this horrible new scenario.