Monday, March 30 update

NYS update: The major news from Cuomo’s briefing today was news of a statewide hospital conference call and a push to more closely coordinate private and public hospitals in NYC — and, it was implied, hospitals all over the state. The official press release is more clear:

The State Department of Health will work with the statewide healthcare system to create a command center to share information between hospitals about the supplies each hospital has in stock and the supplies each hospital is ordering. This central inventory system will help ensure purchasing and distribution of supplies is done strategically and efficiently.

At least for the duration of the COVID crisis, it seems that Cuomo would like to “federalize” (excelsiorize?) New York’s hospital ecosystem, which makes sense, but also opens a new can of worms. Who makes the decisions in the name of public health, and how? (We have to hope that there is better judgment in Albany about how to allocate resources than in Saratoga County.)

Saratoga County’s director of human resources who came up with the 50 percent pandemic pay raise for essential employees is both a beneficiary of the plan as well as a judge of its worthiness. Marcy McNamara, whom SeeThroughNY.org shows earning $119,000 in 2019, is taking in time-and-a-half pay for the first 35 hours she works each week. She also sits on the five-person committee reviewing its merits.

As with nearly everything else happening during this pandemic, the implications for the future of the U.S. health care and hospital “system” are tremendous. The extraordinary measures being taken in New York currently could be a harbinger of things to come for the other blue states.

Onondaga County update: Apparently it’s now safe for the county to publicly debut a new daily metric, “Active Cases.” There are 186 active cases of COVID here, the first decrease in daily actives noted. While there is a higher net number of hospitalized cases (23), the amount of critical cases has not risen, and there have been no new deaths. Question time moved on to the not-so-rosy reports of critically low PPE at St. Joseph’s and one local nursing home. Onondaga County officials are still enthusiastically testing any and all doctor-vetted comers, looking forward to the day when asymptomatic people can be tested affordably, buying PPE and equipment, and just in general sticking out like a plucky sore thumb while other upstate metros seem to be flailing.

Again, one can hardly criticize our county officials for their hard work. CE McMahon continues to handle the repetitive daily conferences skillfully. There is a real consciousness of Syracuse’s place in all this right now — and maybe in the new reality to come — that definitely comes through in each briefing. For now, we can give the benefit of the doubt to the county team, and try to not get too nervous over prudent questions about where the benefits of early preparation are actually being directed. (Where are these “small doctor offices” located, exactly?) But if, like the future-minded McMahon points out, “counties are miniature states,” we should be prepared to ask state-sized questions “today, not tomorrow.”