New York Gov. Cuomo warns Covid variant discovered in UK could strain hospitals, force shutdown

A brand new and extra contagious strain of the coronavirus that was first discovered in the United Kingdom could force New York into one other financial shutdown if it spreads unchecked and weakens the state’s hospitals, Gov. Andrew Cuomo mentioned on Thursday.

So far, New York has reported just one Covid-19 case with the brand new variant, generally known as B.1.1.7, however there are possible extra circumstances that simply have not been detected, Cuomo mentioned. While the variant is considered extra transmissible than earlier variations of the virus, it would not seem to make sufferers extra sick or improve their threat of loss of life, well being officers have mentioned.

But a extra transmissible strain continues to be worrisome as a result of it would infect extra individuals, Cuomo mentioned throughout a name with reporters. That will drive extra hospitalizations at a time when each New York facility is dealing with a scarcity of health-care employees, particularly nurses, the Democratic governor mentioned.

Protecting New York’s health-care methods has been a precedence for the governor, who warned that one other financial shutdown could be on the horizon if the state’s hospitalization charge worsens. There are at the moment greater than 8,600 individuals hospitalized with Covid-19 in New York, essentially the most since early May of final yr, in accordance with knowledge from the COVID Tracking Project, which is run by journalists at The Atlantic.

“In the U.K., it overtook everything in three weeks,” Cuomo mentioned. “If the U.K. spread catches on in New York, hospitalization rate goes up, the hospital staff is sick, then we have a real problem and we’re at shutdown again.”

Three states — Texas, Connecticut and Pennsylvania — all introduced earlier Thursday that they recognized their first Covid-19 circumstances with the B.1.1.7 variant, becoming a member of New York, California, Florida, Georgia and Colorado in confirming the arrival of the brand new strain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mentioned there are at the least 52 circumstances with the mutated virus confirmed in the U.S. as of Thursday. However, the CDC warns that their numbers “do not represent the total number of B.1.1.7 lineage cases that may be circulating in the United States” and will not match the figures reported by native officers.

U.Ok. Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined a collection of latest restrictions throughout England on Monday to forestall overwhelming the nation’s health-care system. Johnson mentioned medical consultants imagine the mutated strain is 50% to 70% extra contagious.

Viruses always mutate and are anticipated to evolve over time because the spikes on their surfaces change, the CDC says. The U.Ok. variant has “emerged with an unusually large number of mutations,” which has allowed it to unfold extra simply and shortly.

The excellent news: The adjustments do not seem to make the prevailing Covid-19 vaccines any much less efficient, the company says. That, in half, is why Cuomo has pushed hospitals to inoculate their health-care employees sooner, he mentioned.

Cuomo warned Monday that hospitals could be fined as much as $100,000 if they do not administer their allotments of Covid-19 vaccines by the tip of this week. While some hospitals have proven enchancment, others are nonetheless lagging behind, he mentioned Thursday.

The state has roughly 2 million health-care employees and, up to now, has solely acquired round 900,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, Cuomo mentioned. Over the previous few weeks, New York has seen an acceleration in the variety of pictures it is in a position to administer, rising to greater than 50,000 a day, Cuomo mentioned.

The state is aggressively attempting to get its first precedence group of health-care employees vaccinated earlier than shifting on to different important employees and weak individuals, comparable to lecturers, law enforcement officials and other people over the age of 75.

“Vaccinate the health-care workers, because if they get sick and they don’t show up, and staff shortages are already the limiting factor on hospital capacity, you’re going to hit the hospital capacity like they did in California, like they did in the U.K., like they did in Italy,” Cuomo mentioned. “And then you’re going to have to close down.”

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