Five Step Winter Plan to Fight COVID Surge Includes Emergency Stop Zone
The number of coronavirus cases continue to rise in New York state and the Governor is preparing a five step winter plan to fight the COVID surge.
"While the holiday season often brings joy to many, the increase in social activity and mobility will also bring an increase of viral transmission. We understand the cause and effect, and the effect is dramatic," Governor Cuomo said. "We must adapt to this reality and have a plan in place that specifically addresses the challenges that come with it. We've been through the worst, and while we're not done yet, we are moving forward with the lessons we learned in the spring to come through this together."
The winter plan consists of five strategies focused on mitigating the spread of the virus and bolstering New York State hospital preparedness.
Continue Micro-Cluster Strategy while Managing Hospital Capacity
The micro-cluster strategy Governor Cuomo implemented in mid-October will be strengthened to provide a clearer picture of where a particular zone stands in the fight against COVID and how each area contributes to daily hospital admissions. In addition to the 3 existing micro-cluster zone levels (Yellow Precautionary, Orange Warning and Red), New York will also add a new 'Emergency Stop' level, which will effectively put that area under the NY Pause guidelines, if needed to preserve hospital capacity.
The Department of Health began to initiate emergency hospital measures to prepare the state's hospital system for an expected surge in new admissions over the upcoming weeks, including identifying retired nurses and doctors to bolster staff.
New York state will take steps to increase the amount of testing available statewide, especially for certain employees and businesses.
Keep Schools Open Safely
Experts have determined as long as a school's infection rate is under control and remains under the infection rate of the community at large, schools should remain open, particularly for students in K-8.
Under New York's Winter Plan, efforts will be focused on keeping K-8 and Special Education schools open as long as it can be done safely. The first step will be to establish sustainable, ongoing testing in schools so they can continue operating.
Prevent Viral Spread from Small Gatherings
Small gatherings have been identified as the number one spreader of COVID-19, with at least 65% of all cases coming get togethers. Sixteen states, including New York, have already instituted gatherings limits of less than 10 people, with Kentucky recently moving to gathering limits to 8 or less. New York State will be launching a public education campaign to highlight how small gatherings can lead to the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
Safe Vaccination Program
While a vaccine is expected to be released in the coming weeks, it will be months before mass vaccinations for the general public will be available. The state will build a plan to distribute vaccinations based on fairness, equity and safety.