During his press briefing today, the Governor announced that New York will allow elective outpatient treatment in counties and hospitals without significant risk of COVID-19 surge in the near future. This strategy will preserve beds for COVID-19 patients, while allowing facilities that are being forced to furlough workers to return to work. Hospitals will be able to resume performing elective outpatient treatments on April 28, 2020, if the hospital capacity is over 25 percent for the county and if there have been fewer than 10 new hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the county over the past 10 days. If a hospital is located in a county eligible to resume elective outpatient treatments, but that hospital has a capacity under 25 percent or has had more than 10 new hospitalizations in the past 10 days, that hospital is not eligible to resume elective surgeries. If a county or hospital that has resumed elective surgery experiences a decrease in hospital capacity below the 25 percent threshold or an increase of 10 or more new hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, elective surgeries must cease. Further, patients must test negative for COVID-19 prior to any elective outpatient treatment. The State Department of Health will issue guidance on resuming elective surgeries. This return of elective surgeries currently excludes Bronx, Queens, Rockland, Nassau, Clinton, Yates, Westchester, Albany, Richmond, Schuyler, Kings, Suffolk, New York, Dutchess, Sullivan, Ulster, Erie, Orange and Rensselaer Counties.
The Governor also announced today that “we’re going to make re-opening decisions on a regional basis based on that region’s facts and circumstances based on the COVID virus.” He noted that each region is experiencing unique timing with the curve of this virus, and a regional approach will allow decisions based on the facts on the ground. There is no set date for when the re-openings will happen. This regional approach will take into account the data in each region, which includes infection and hospitalization rates. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will be in charge of supervising the re-opening in Western New York, and former Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy will be in charge of supervising the re-opening in the Finger Lakes.
Also of note, last night it was announced that the Governor will be issuing an executive order that will allow all registered voters in New York to vote by mail in the primaries and special elections set for June 23. We had previously shared that the Governor has issued an executive order that expanded absentee voting for New York voters. However, to receive an absentee ballot, a voter needs to apply to be sent the ballot. Now, the ballots will be mailed directly to every registered voter. Once the executive order is released, we share any additional relevant information.