What to Know
- Officials in New York are working on a COVID-19 winter plan in anticipation of an increase in cases during the colder months.
- During his coronavirus press briefing Thanksgiving Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo broadly detailed what the plan will focus on.
- The new winter plan would tweak the rules for red, orange and yellow zones. The idea is to impose restrictions based not just on infection rates, but also hospitalization numbers too.
Officials in New York are working on a COVID-19 winter plan in anticipation of an increase in cases during the colder months.
During his coronavirus press briefing Thanksgiving Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo broadly detailed what the plan will focus on.
"What we are going to be doing through this Thanksgiving weekend and into next week, we are going to be working now on a winter plan," Cuomo said. "All the global experts say the same thing: this virus has phases and as the phases change your plan should change."
Although the state needs to assess the consequence of the Thanksgiving holiday in its plan, Cuomo said "there are a number of theories about how bad the increase will be after thanksgiving, but they all project an increase post-Thanksgiving. We see the air travelers increase, we see the car travelers increase and we know that the more social activity the higher the infection rate."
According to the governor, the winter plan will continue with a micro-cluster approach in which certain areas are deemed yellow, orange or red zones depending on their infection rates. With each zone, restrictions will be put in place in that particular area.
"On the winter plan we are going to stay with the micro-cluster approach because that targets spread, it minimizes economic impact and it stresses individual and community accountability and responsibility. So that is working very well," he said.
The new winter plan would tweak the rules for red, orange and yellow zones. The idea is to impose restrictions based not just on infection rates, but also hospitalization numbers too.
Daily Percentage of Positive Tests by New York Region
Gov. Andrew Cuomo breaks the state into 10 regions for testing purposes and tracks positivity rates to identify potential hotspots. Here's the latest tracking data by region and for the five boroughs. For the latest county-level results statewide, click here
Cuomo said the state is looking to adding factors to yellow, orange and red zones, "most notably hospitalization rate and availability of hospital beds, ICU beds because that is the worst case scenario….an infection rate in a place that has a shortage of hospital beds is more serious than an infection rate in a place that has fewer hospital beds. So that is one of the exercises we are going through now."
Another component of the winter plan will be keeping schools open, especially k-8. "Junior high, high [school] is a different situation," Cuomo said.
The governor said that through the winter plan, the state aims to keep "the schools open and keeping them open by setting a safe positivity rate. All the data says that schools are safer than the surrounding community."
Part of the equation in keeping the schools open is continued testing in schools.
"We need a sustainable testing rate in the schools," Cuomo said. "In other words, if we want to keep the schools open, it has to be a level of testing that the local school districts can provide for a prolonged period of time…you have to get through the winter."
The governor said that the state need to balance the number of tests in schools, with the number of tests in nursing homes, as well as the number of tests for essential workers.
The third component of the potential plan is going to focus on developing a vaccine distribution plan that is "fair" and "effective."
Although details will be worked on in the upcoming days, Cuomo did say that the state is in conversation with local governments as it drafts its winter plan.
Cuomo revealed Thursday that 6,933 additional COVID-19-positive cases were reported for a 3.18% positive state rate. The latest data also reveals a total of 3,056 coronavirus-related hospitalizations and 67 deaths throughout New York.