New Metrics to Align with Increased Focus on Protecting Hospital Capacity
Hospitals Directed to Take Additional Steps to Help Keep Capacity Rates Below 85 Percent
Indoor Dining to Close in New York City on Monday; Determinations on Additional Indoor Dining Restrictions Throughout Rest of State to Come
Personal Care & Salons Permitted to Remain Open with Increased Testing in Orange Zones
Gyms Now May Operate with Reduced Capacity in Orange Zones
Changes to Gym and Salon Guidance Effective Monday, December 14
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday evening, announced new metrics by which micro-cluster focus zones will be determined to help control COVID-19 spread and protect hospital capacity. Additionally, the Governor announced new directives to further grow hospital capacity, as well as updated calibrations to business guidelines based on recent CDC guidance, advice of public health experts, and data from state’s contact tracing program. Under these calibrated business guidelines, indoor dining in New York City will be suspended on Monday, December 14, and gyms and salons will now be allowed to remain open with restrictions in Orange Zones.
“We have been setting rules that make sense for everyone, and it is basically all common sense. We invested very heavily in doing COVID testing, and we do more testing than any state in the nation. That gives us actual facts that we can base our actions upon,” Governor Cuomo said. “This is not high science we’re applying here—these are common-sense rules. Where the virus is highest, you have to take action. We’re changing rules for the hospitals in the state. We’ve already announced that all hospitals have to do a 25 percent increase in staffed beds. Hospitals must remain under 85 percent, either by adding up to 25 percent of beds, reducing or eliminating elective surgeries, or both. We’re also calibrating the risk level of the economic activity to ensure we are respecting public health, while limiting economic disruption to the extent possible. This pandemic has required us to stay nimble from the very beginning and we will continue to follow the data to make smart, informed decisions.”
Updated Zone Metrics
As New York has grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor and NYS Dept. of Health have made it a priority to continuously calibrate the metrics governing restrictions to protect public health, without causing undue harm to the economy. The updated metrics unveiled today and over this past week continue to focus on limiting viral spread in communities with the highest rates of case growth and hospital admissions, and factor in a region’s hospital capacity.
Under these updated metrics, micro-cluster zones will now be determined as follows:
A red zone will be implemented in a region where hospital capacity is within 21 days of reaching 90 percent, even after the cancellation of elective procedures and a 50 percent increase in bed capacity in hospitals in the region.
A geographic area will be eligible to enter an Orange Zone if it has a 4 percent positivity rate (7-day average) over the last 10 days and it is located in a region that has reached 85 percent hospital capacity. Alternatively, a geographic area may also become an Orange Zone if the State Department of Health determines the area or region’s rate of hospital admissions is unacceptably high and a zone designation is appropriate to control the rate of growth.
A geographic area will be eligible to enter a Yellow Zone if it has a 3 percent positivity rate (7-day average) over the past 10 days and is in the top 10 percent in the state for hospital admissions per capita over the past week and is experiencing week-over-week growth in daily admissions.
Updated Hospital Directives
Earlier this week, the Governor directed the State Department of Health to begin implementing the state’s “surge and flex” protocol and a number of steps were initiated as part of that effort. Specifically, all hospitals were mandated to begin expanding their bed capacity by 25 percent to further prepare hospitals for a future COVID-19 surge. Additionally, the Governor issued a call to all retired doctors and nurses urging them to return to service if they are able to do so and hospitals were reminded of the requirement to report data and to ensure they maintain a 90-day stockpile of personal protective equipment.
Today, the NYS Dept. of Health is issuing a directive for hospitals to take steps to remain below 85 percent capacity by either adding an additional 25 percent of capacity, eliminating elective surgeries, or by taking a combination of both steps.
Updated Business Restrictions
Suspension of Indoor Dining in New York City
Beginning on Monday, December 14, indoor dining will be suspended in New York City. This measure comes after the federal Centers for Disease Control updated its guidance to say ‘Exposures at nonessential indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings pose a preventable risk to all participants. Indoor venues, where distancing is not maintained and consistent use of face masks is not possible (e.g. restaurant dining) have been identified as particularly high-risk scenarios’ and New York City continues to see increased positivity, cases per capita, daily hospital admissions, and total hospitalizations. This suspension will continue to be re-evaluated based on updated data over the coming weeks, and to provide additional support to the industry during these difficult times, the Governor is extending the state’s moratorium on commercial evictions and is renewing his call for Congress to include support for bars and restaurants in the next stimulus package.
Updated Rules for Gyms and Salons
Gyms and personal care services were originally higher risk environments for viral transmission, but the State’s latest data shows that the rate of spread has been reduced in businesses that are operating in accordance with the Department of Health’s New York Forward guidance. Following the State’s principles of recalibration and balancing public health measures with economic impact, these businesses that are within orange zones may operate with additional services restrictions, starting Monday, December 14. Specifically, gyms and fitness centers — which are currently closed in orange zones — will be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity, reduced from 33 percent. Personal care services — for example, salons and barbershops which are also currently closed in orange zones — will be allowed to provide services so long as the employees performing services are tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis, and obtain a negative test result prior to opening.