Cases rise across city as Queens remains the hardest hit
The coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across New York City as total infection rates jumped to 33,474 total cases. Queens remains the hardest hit, as its total cases climbed close to 11,000 over the weekend, 253 of which resulted in death.
East Elmhurst Hospital has been in the news as underprepared and understaffed. The city’s Departmnet of Health (DOH) issued a statement in response: “NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst is at the center of this crisis, and it’s the number one priority of our public hospital system right now. The frontline staff are going above and beyond in this crisis, and we continue surging supplies and personnel to this critical facility to keep pace with the crisis. We are literally increasing the effective capacity of the hospital on a daily basis by sending more doctors, nurses, ventilators and PPE to meet demand.”
“Staff are doing everything in our power to save every person who contracts COVID-19, but unfortunately this virus continues to take an especially terrible toll on the elderly and people with preexisting conditions. We need New Yorkers to do their part. Stay home. And don’t seek emergency care for mild or moderate symptoms,” the statement went on to say.
As hospitals face a lack of supplies, the city is desperately trying to gather medical workers and ventilators needed for life-saving treatment.
According to the New York Times, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has also sent 169 additional health care workers to Elmhurst Hospital. “This is going to be an extraordinarily tough next few weeks, but we will keep sending more and more reinforcements,” de Blasio told reporters.
According to White House officials, a plane from Shanghai arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York Sunday morning carrying much needed supplies: 12 million gloves, 130,000 N95 masks, 1.7 million surgical masks, 50,000 gowns, 130,000 hand sanitizer units, and 36,000 thermometers.
Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, who runs the coronavirus supply chain task force at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) explained that the supplies will go to the New York tri-state area, with subsequent shipments to be distributed to other parts of the country.
New fines to be imposed on those who fail to follow social distancing
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced over the weekend the city will enforce new fines and rules for those not social distancing. Fines of either $250 or $500 will be given to those who fail to comply.
“You’ve been warned and warned and warned again,” said de Blasio. Expectations of social distancing include any form of gathering as well as failure to adhere and follow Police officers’ orders. For the past week, businesses who have not installed social distancing precautions have faced fines. In supermarkets you will see that either only a certain amount of people are let it, or there are guides put in place to keep people at least 6 feet away from each other in check-out lines.
In addition to this, stricter restrictions will be placed on subway riders, those who are on cars that are too crowded will be removed. The overcrowding of subway cars comes as MTA cuts service forcing many to crowd into available cars. The Staten Island Ferry will also take a hit as service will now be cut to one boat an hour. All of these new regulations are aimed at flattening the curve; reducing the number of future Covid-19 cases.
Even houses of worship who are continuing to hold religious services risk receiving fines or losing access to their buildings. In NYC’s guidelines state, “You should not hold any in-person services indoors or outdoors. Those found in violation of this will face fines and potential closure of their buildings.”
“We need our faiths in this time of crisis, but we do not need gatherings that will endanger people,” said de Blasio.
Community- and faith-based organizations, need to work together with schools, businesses, healthcare systems, as well as federal, local and state health departments, to slow the spread of the disease states the CDC website. It shows the importance they have in slowing the spread of diseases, especially in populations that are more likely to be infected.
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Queens DA Katz tests positive for COVID-19
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz (D), 54, tested positive for COVID-19. She is one of the latest high-profile politicians to become infected. The recently elected Katz is recovering at home and remains self-quarantined. It is believed that she was not infected while at work, and is unsure where she contracted the virus.
Most of her office’s staff have been working remotely since March 19, or earlier this month. She showed mild symptoms with a fever reported The Daily News. She is expected to make a full recovery.
Along with Katz, City Council Members Ritchie Torres and Inez Barron have tested positive, in addition to possible four Assembly members.
Katz took over the District Attorney’s position at the beginning of the year. There was to be a special election to fill Katz’s former job as Queens borough president, but it has been postoponed twice and is now lated for June 23.
With the State courts remaining open during the quarantine as an essential business, judges, defense attorneys and district attorneys including Katz have transitioned to videoconferencing to continue with court proceedings to protect against the spread of the virus.
Temporary hospitals built in response COVID-19 cases rise across city
In response to an increased number of cases, Mount Sinai Queens has built tents to facilitate those infected by COVID-19. The hospital is using tents to expand its emergency department. These tents will help healthcare workers reduce the spread of Covid-19 between its staff and the patients they are treating.
In addition to this medical tents have been put up in Central Park to facilitate the expected peak in cases. The makeshift hospital will hold 68 people and is expected to open tomorrow. According to NBC New York, the hospital is designed as a respiratory care unit.
In a recent update Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) asked President Donald Trump for permission to construct an additional four temporary hospitals in the city.
Queens has only nine hospitals that include two municipal hospitals that serve its 2.3 million residents. The addition of these temporary hospitals will help reduce the stress on the overcrowded medical facilities. According to a February report by the Queens Borough President, Queens has just 1.66 beds per 1,000 people.
As the peak of cases is expected sometime in the near future more medical supplies including beds and ventilators are required to meet the demand. According to Cuomo the state currently has 53,000 beds, it will eventually need 140,000, the expected peak of cases.
Potential future sites include the Expo Center in the Bronx, Queen College, Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and the College of Staten Island.
On Saturday, Governor Cuomo announced that the state had received the approval to move forward with the temporary hospital at Aqueduct Racetrack as well as locations in Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx.
In a statement released on the New York Racing Association website, “NYRA and the New York racing community are thankful for Governor Cuomo’s steady leadership during this unprecedented public health crisis, and we stand ready to assist in any way we can.”
“Now that Governor Cuomo has secured federal approval, Aqueduct will instead serve as a safe haven for those recovering from the virus.”