Photo Credit: NY Live / YouTube screengrab
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at his daily COVID-19 briefing

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at his daily coronavirus briefing on Friday that effective this Tuesday (Dec. 22), all elective surgeries in the city are to be suspended.

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NYC Health and Hospitals Corp. CEO Dr. Mitchell H. Katz officially issued the suspension of all elective surgeries “as part of the city’s plans to ensure that all COVID patients who need hospital beds will have them,” Katz said at the briefing.

As of Saturday, there were 16,827 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past week in New York City, and 5,026 “probable cases” of the virus. There were 21,852 total cases of COVID-19 in the city over the past week, and 173 New Yorkers who died from the virus this past week. The positivity rate was 5.21 percent. The numbers are all increasing, which is the reason for the mayor’s action.

“We have made it clear that the only surgeries that we will be doing are those surgeries that are a result of emergencies, such as car accidents or surgeries in which a patient’s health is directly affected,” Katz said.

“So we are doing the necessary surgeries and the emergency surgeries,” Katz said. “But, we have, consistent with the governor’s request cancelled elective procedures.”

In accordance with a request by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Katz said hospitals are taking steps to ensure 25 percent of their beds are always left open.

At present, there is only a 65 percent occupancy in regular medical-surgical beds and in the intensive care units in the city’s public hospitals, Katz said, so New York City Health and Hospitals are not in “imminent danger” of using the empty beds.

As the hospitalization rates of COVID patients continues to climb, Cuomo has said in his briefings that he has asked the state’s hospitals to create plans to ensure that none are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. He also raised the possibility of creating field hospitals if they become overcrowded with COVID patients.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.