With COVID-19 resurging, New York halts electives at 32 hospitals to preserve capacity

Thirty-two New York hospitals facing low capacity due to increased COVID-19 are being ordered to halt elective surgeries scheduled for Friday or later, state officials confirmed Monday afternoon.

The protocols are the result of an executive order signed by the governor in late November that empowers the New York State Department of Health to limit “non-essential, non-urgent procedures for in-hospitals or systems with limited capacity to protect access to critical healthcare services,” according to a press announcement.

The state is using a cutoff of 10% staffed bed capacity to determine whether a halt is necessary, although the governor’s office said the state’s health department will also take “regional and healthcare utilization factors” into account.

During a Monday press conference, Gov. Kathy Hochul said the approach is a more measured take on the blanket shutdowns hospitals in the state endured during 2020.

“We did not want to return to a scenario in the early months of the pandemic where there was a wholesale shutting down of elective surgery regardless of what the infection rate was in the region,” she said during the Monday press conference.

“So in fact, New York City was hit the hardest, but there were counties … where they really had almost no cases but they also had to stop elective surgery. So we’ve learned a lot from that experience, to not just have a one-size-fits-all approach, make it more targeted to the hospitals that really are in trouble,” she said.

RELATED: Massachusetts calls on hospitals to reduce elective procedures amid staffing shortages

COVID-19 cases have recently been on the rise in New York, a trend Hochul said was to be expected after the Thanksgiving holiday. Monday, the state reported 6,078 new positive cases and 3,285 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

Hochul said during the press conference that residents should expect the case increases and capacity strain to be an ongoing, but “uncontrolled,” situation. She also highlighted National Guard members lending support to the state’s understaffed nursing homes and arrangements for hospitals to lend each other staff based on regional need.

New York recently reemerged in the national conversation on COVID-19 when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday a first-in-the-nation vaccination mandate for private companies.

Specifics on the requirements will be released next week, the mayor said, but will go into effect before the end of the month. Notably, there will not be a weekly testing option for those to whom the mandate applies, he said.