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State asks upstate hospitals to send medical staff to help downstate hospitals fight COVID-19

By Adam Rombel (


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo provides a coronavirus update during a Tuesday news conference in the Red Room at the State Capitol in Albany. (Photo credit: Mike Groll/ Office of Gov. Cuomo via his Flickr page)

ALBANY, N.Y. — Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff from hospitals in upstate New York will likely soon be deployed to New York City–area hospitals to help with the surge of coronavirus patients, now that the state government is requesting it.

It’s part of a broader effort to implement a statewide public-private hospital plan to share information, supplies, staff, and patients among hospitals across New York as it battles the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday announced a new hospital network central coordinating team to facilitate the strategy.

“First, we’re going to try to bring upstate staff down to New York City hospitals. It’s one of the requests we’re going to make today,” Cuomo said at his daily press briefing on the coronavirus. “You have upstate hospitals that are nowhere near capacity… Send your staff down to New York City hospitals.”

The governor said it’s voluntary and the state will figure out the costs of the staff transfers later. “I said do whatever we have to do to save lives and then we’ll figure out the bill afterwards,” Cuomo said about his discussion with hospital executives about the sharing of resources.

The governor added that so far no COVID-19 patients from downstate hospitals have been sent to upstate facilities, but it could happen in the future. He said the state would only do so after redistributing the patient load among the New York City hospitals and reaching capacity in all of them.

State COVID-19 cases, deaths jump

New York state’s coronavirus cases jumped by 9,298, or 14 percent, to 75,795 on Tuesday from 66,497 on Monday. About 97 percent of the cases are in the greater New York City area (New York City and the seven counties surrounding it). Deaths surged 27 percent to 1,550 from 1,218.

“The number of cases is still going up. We’re all in search of the apex and the other side of the mountain. But we’re still headed up the mountain,” Cuomo said. “I am tired of being behind this virus. We’ve been behind this virus from day one. And we’ve been playing catch up. You don’t win playing catch up. We have to get ahead of it.”

The governor continued, “We underestimated this virus. It’s more powerful, it’s more dangerous than we expected.”

Cuomo said the state is going all out to prepare for the battle at the top of the COVID-19 case curve. That includes making the staffing plans and stockpiling the equipment to be ready, while also getting the public to accept that this is going to be a long battle and they need to keep doing their part with social distancing.


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