The rate of positive COVID-19 cases in New York did not slow down during election week, and now health care workers are voicing concern over this continued increase in hospitalizations.
Lona DeNisco, a registered nurse and member of the New York State Nurses Association, says nurses want reassurance that the problems they encountered in March will not happen again if the rate of these cases continues to climb.
"Last weekend alone it was a 6% spike in one day," DeNisco said about Western New York. "That’s astronomical, and we’re concerned, so the huge push is for making sure we actually have a stockpile that they say we have."
At the start of the pandemic, hospitals across the country scrambled to scoop up a massive amount of personal protective equipment, quickly creating a shortage.
Nurses were told to conserve their N95 masks and wear just one per shift. Now hospitals are required to stockpile at least 90 days worth of PPE.
The state also created its own stockpile as well, but the nurses association says it wants more details and a full walkthrough of these storage facilities.
"We want to protect our people, but we want to protect ourselves too," DeNisco explained. "How do we take care of our communities if all our nurses get sick? And you have seen how many nurses have lost their lives to this. We still go to work, we still carry that burden."
Meanwhile, Central New York is seeing a sharp spike in cases, increasing from a 3.2% positive COVID-19 infection rate on Sunday to 5.7% on Monday.
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon says the region is preparing for new restrictions, now that parts of the county have been declared part of a yellow zone.
"We just don’t know where this is going right now as we’re seeing these upticks," McMahon explained. "What looked like it was a seasonal shift now looks like it is closer to a second wave."
Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan says his county’s hospitalization numbers are also at levels they have not seen since May.
"We’re really at a make or break moment," Ryan explained. "We’re very concerned. We’re trying to lean forward and stay proactive with a school response plan and other components and rapid testing. But I think unfortunately, it’s going to get worse before it gets better."
Both county executives say they are working closely with the state to try and get more rapid testing kits quickly to their areas.
"We have to speed up that turnaround time," Ryan said. "So we’ve got some mobile testing kits and machines, we’re just getting to roll those out in the next few days, but we’re going to need a lot more of those. I think that is my number one request."
"I’ve been working with the state. They are getting us some more test kits," McMahon assured. "But there are things for rapid testing, if we wanted to, as a county, go to Abbott and set up our own contract to buy from them we can’t. We have to work through the state or through the federal procurement chain so we really need that partnership."
Both county executives also expressed concern over having to potentially contain a second wave as well as distribute a vaccine if one is announced over the next few months.