New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday said he's worried about hospitals being overwhelmed this winter as infection rates continue to rise in the state. Cuomo outlined several measures in an effort to help hospitals.
"We learned this lesson the hard way," Cuomo said. "We lived this nightmare. We learned from this nightmare. We're going to correct for the lessons we learned during this nightmare."
Cuomo is ordering hospitals to identify retired nurses and doctors who can fill shortages, increase bed capacity by 50% and develop a plan to transfer patients within hospital networks to facilities with more capacity. Cuomo said some hospitals had been reluctant to transfer patients earlier this year.
"Forget how you operate, this is a mandate from the state Department of Health. You must distribute patients within your system so the state does not get overwhelmed," Cuomo said. "We are not going to live through the nightmare of overwhelmed hospitals again."
The governor said more restrictions could be on the horizon if cases continue to spike after Thanksgiving weekend and said another "pause" order is possible if hospitals become overwhelmed.
Small gatherings are now the number one spreader of the virus in the state, accounting for 65% of all cases, Cuomo said. After placing restrictions on bars and restaurants, he said officials have seen a reduction in cases there.
"This is a dramatic shift," Cuomo said. "It's what happens during the holidays. Part of it is reduced social options. I can't go to the bar and hang out. I can't go to the restaurant and hang out. I can't go to the movie theater and hang out. Come over to my house and we'll hang out. It's just an adaptation of social behavior to the circumstances."
Earlier this month, the state began limitingto 10 people.
"This is where the spread is coming from," Cuomo said. "We have to communicate this now to people the way we communicated masks. Seemingly the safest place - my home, my table, my family — yeah, even that place is not safe. And we're going to have a new public education campaign that speaks just to this.
"This is not government being overly dramatic. These are just facts," he added.