NYC’s Progress Against Virus Misses State’s Goals and Its Own

(Bloomberg) -- New York City is struggling to meet state standards for reopening the most populous U.S. city, and is moving in the wrong direction on some of its own metrics, including hospital admissions.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has predicted that the city’s hospitals and intensive-care units will no longer be overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients by mid-June. While the crushing influx of the critically ill has eased, Tuesday’s data showed virus admissions to hospitals and public hospital intensive-care units were increasing as of May 16.

And the city is still struggling to meet state-mandated goals on hospital-room availability, de Blasio said, calling the latest numbers “a reminder as to how much we have to stick to the plan” of social distancing, hand-washing, face-covering and working from home.

NYC’s Progress Against Virus Misses State’s Goals and Its Own

City guidelines require that Covid-related hospitalizations, public-hospital ICU use and the percentage of positive tests drop for 10 to 14 consecutive days. On May 16, city hospitals admitted 57 Covid-19 related cases, an increase of nine. Its public hospital ICUs held 492 patients, up from 475. Of the thousands now getting tested each day, 9% were infected with the virus, down from 11%, de Blasio reported.

Those numbers are a major improvement from a month ago. On April 13, 386 were admitted to hospitals and 887 were in public hospital ICUs. As many as 78% of tests, mostly to symptomatic patients, turned up positive.

Still, the city has met only four of the state’s seven requirements: a 14-day decline in net hospitalizations; a 14-day decline in hospital deaths; a testing program reaching at least 30 people per 1,000 in the population; and reducing new hospitalization rates to under 2 per 100,000.

The city missed a required 30% availability rate for hospital beds and for ICUs, with 27% of beds empty and 26% of ICU capacity available. And it hasn’t met a state requirement to deploy enough contact tracers -- 30 for every 100,000 residents -- to interview patients who have tested positive and identify those they may have infected.

City officials expect to meet the state’s tracing target by mid-June, with about 5,000 workers, as well as the other goals, the mayor said. At that point, he said, he’ll be able to decide “which restrictions to loosen up, exactly how, and we have to be confident that when we’re doing it, we can hold the line.”

Asked what he would do if the city complied with the state criteria but missed its own, de Blasio said: “I strongly believe they will align,” and added, “I’m sure we will be able to find a common strategy.”

The city’s compliance with only four of the state’s seven data points is the lowest score among 10 regions.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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