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I was honored to have Dr. Anthony Fauci join us at today’s COVID briefing. I asked Dr. Fauci when we might see a peak in the expected COVID spread. He thinks that the effect of Thanksgiving will likely become clearer in the coming days and that with Christmas and Hanukkah coming up, we could see a “surge upon a surge.”

“Without substantial mitigation, the middle of January can be a very dark time for us,” he warned. In order to manage hospital capacity during this expected surge, New York State will begin implementing our “surge and flex” protocol.

As part of this strategy, all hospitals must begin expanding their bed capacity by 25 percent. Hospital systems must also balance patient loads within their system to make sure no one hospital is overstressed. (In Spring, there was an issue with individual hospital overload, but not system-wide overload.)

 As we approach the height of the holiday season, we are prepared. Make sure you are too. Please continue to follow our health guidelines and act with caution. 

Photo of the Day: Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci joined my press briefing to hear New York’s plan for COVID. Here’s what else you need to know tonight: 

1. Total COVID hospitalizations rose to 4,602. Of the 152,287 tests reported yesterday, 7,302, or 4.79 percent, were positive. There were 872 patients in ICU yesterday, up 22 from the previous day. Of them, 477 are intubated. Sadly, we lost 80 New Yorkers to the virus.  

2. We are calling on all retired doctors and nurses to return to service if they are able to do so. Hospitals were previously asked to identify retired staff as part of New York’s COVID Winter Plan in order to help avoid or mitigate any potential staffing shortage. The State will automatically renew registrations at no cost to help streamline the process.

 3. Regions that reach “critical hospital capacity” will be designated as a Red Zone under New York’s micro-cluster strategy. Critical hospital capacity is defined as 90 percent of hospital capacity (in other words, 90 percent full). Following the implementation of the State’s “surge and flex” protocol, if a region’s 7-day average hospitalization growth rate shows that the region will reach 90 percent hospital capacity within the next three weeks, the region will become a Red Zone. 

4. Additional restrictions will be applied to indoor dining if hospitalization rates don’t stabilize in the next five days. If the hospitalization rate does not stabilize in New York City in the next five days, indoor dining will be suspended; if the rate does not stabilize in regions outside New York City, capacity restrictions will be reduced to 25 percent.  

5. The Finger Lakes region currently has the highest percentage of hospitalizations. The Finger Lakes, where Rochester is located, is followed by Western New York and Central New York.

In a reversal from Spring, we now have lower rates of hospitalizations as a percentage of population downstate than we do upstate.

 Tonight’s “Deep Breath Moment”: Syracuse-native and Seattle Storm basketball player Breanna Stewart has been named one of Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year. Stewart is being recognized by the magazine for her work as an “Activist Athlete” alongside Naomi Osaka, Patrick Mahomes, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and LeBron James. “[Our Sportsperson of the Year award goes to five men and women who in 2020 were champions in every sense of the word: champions on the field, champions for others off it,” the publication wrote. Congrats to New York’s own Breanna Stewart! 

If you were forwarded this email, you can subscribe to New York State’s Coronavirus Updates here. 

Ever Upward, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 

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