New York: Are they Italy or are they Ready?

COVID-19 cases properly broke onto the shores of the United States on March 18th. Testing is starting to ramp up and what testing is revealing is that the coronavirus is already rampant in the United States. It is quite unbelievable that capability to test and process quickly, in the thousands per day, is only really happening this week. What we are seeing now is that the virus is pretty much everywhere. Within a very short number of days, cases in the US, will dwarf anything any individual country in Europe is currently producing.

If Wuhan is the centre of Chinese activity and Italy is the centre of European activity then New York is going to be the initial epicenter of US coronavirus activity.

March 19th update.

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio and NYC Health + Hospitals today announced expanded, appointment-only COVID-19 testing capacity across 10 acute-care hospitals, seven Gotham Health community-based health centers, and 4 drive-thru test sites.  

Citywide, there are 3,615 positive cases of COVID-19 and 22 fatalities. Currently, there are 980 cases in Queens, 976 in Manhattan, 1030 in Brooklyn, 436 in the Bronx, and 165 in Staten Island. 

The key political figures in New York are the Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Mayor of New York city Bill de Blasio. Both are calling for the federal cavalry – financial and human. New York like many places around the world is scrambling for more time.

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March 18th Update

Latest reported figures (March 18th 7:30 pm EST) show that New York state including New York city had 2,382 cases of the coronavirus. New York State and New York City seem to report largely independently of each other. A couple of hours after the statewide stats were released, New York city updated their stats for yesterday to 1,871 cases for New York City and boroughs. An increase of 500 from the figures the State were reporting for NYC earlier in the day.

Now remember this, Just one day previous (Mar 17th) all New York City boroughs were only reporting 923 cases of coronavirus. So a doubling in numbers within 24 hours in the city. Fortunately, death rates are still relatively low at 11. However the pressure is building rapidly on the health infrastructure of the city and state.

The statewide hospitalization rate, worryingly, is around 23 percent. Both De Blasio and Cuomo are looking at options that a week ago were unthinkable -requisitioning hotel beds.

New York State Coronavirus numbers County by County**

( All stats referenced from NY State Health Department – https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/county-county-breakdown-positive-cases )

Trump has responded to New York’s sudden spike with a number of measures; the most interesting of which is a floating hospital. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said yesterday at a news conference that the federal government will be dispatching the USNS Comfort hospital ship to New York to assist with the health care capacity. It’s thought that the naval 1,000 bed facility will dock in New York within the next 10-12 days. It is currently in Norfolk for maintenance.

New York is the most important city in the world primarily because it is the world center of global capital markets. Global financial capital markets are in meltdown for last 10 days. So having the coronavirus actually on their doorstep, is not exactly conducive, to improving their decision making at a time of historic crisis. We all have skin in the New York game. If you’re working in a multi-national in Ireland reading this, it’s pretty certain that the CEO of the company you work in is currently scrambling trying to access liquidity to keep the company afloat and make payroll. To that end the final touches to a 1 trillion dollar federal stimulus package are being haggled over in the United States Senate at the moment.

Some have been critical of the Trump administration coronavirus response, especially in the area of their inability to ramp up early testing. One of the problems he has is that the 50 States of the United States are in many ways operated as independent entities at a state level. Federal decisions, monies and infrastructure can be difficult to get pervading quickly down through, and then back up, each individual state and local municipality. Never was this more evident than in terms of overcoming the tiers of different bureaucracy involved in getting test kits distributed and processed in a timely fashion.

At any rate, the battle lines are drawn and New York State will be the litmus test of the United States preparedness. A state approximately 1.5 times the size of Ireland. Late last week they had less cases than us and as crazy as it sounds their time is already up. It should be a sobering reminder to us. My gut tells me that the US is not prepared and in particular New York.

And I feel NY is not ready like Italy was not ready. I sincerely hope I am wrong.

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