Last Friday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a move to free up hospital beds in the face of the latest COVID-19 surge: Hospitals with 10% available capacity or less could be forced to cancel elective surgeries. 

But the executive order will likely apply only to upstate regions, which have seen a surge in hospitalizations. Hospitals in the city have seen a relatively small uptick in admissions.

In new guidance issued Friday, the state health department said determinations will be made next Monday, Dec. 6, and will take effect on Thursday, Dec. 9.

What You Need To Know

  • Last week, Gov. Hochul announced hospitals with less than 10% available capacity could be forced to limit elective surgeries

  • The mandate will apply primarily to upstate regions, where hospitalizations have surged

  • In new guidance issued Friday, the state said determinations will made Monday, Dec. 6 and take effect Dec. 9
  • Hospitals in NYC believe they can manage capacity and avoid any restrictions

State health officials say they will look at the situation region by region, and that for now, New York City and other downstate areas are not in the danger zone. "This is very targeted,” Hochul said at a news conference on Monday.

New York City is now at 0.98 new hospitalizations a day per 100,000 residents, as measured on a seven-day average. That number is 5.0 in the North Country, 5.2 in Western New York and 5.9 in the Finger Lakes.

Still, the state health department has maintained a running list of hospitals that could be impacted, and as recently as Thursday the list included several operated by Northwell Health. But the hospital network is confident it can manage resources and avoid any restriction.

In a statement, Northwell said: "The data released by the state represent a point in time of measures that change hour by hour as patients are admitted and discharged. Northwell averages about 3,600 patients in our system and has the capacity to surge up to treat 5,000 patients with very short notice."

Some of city's public hospitals have also shown up on the state's list, but city officials this week expressed confidence the system, known as New York City Health and Hospitals, can handle any surge. 

"We're in an excellent position to deploy resources at all our hospitals,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals at Mayor de Blasio’s briefing on Wednesday.

City health commissioner Dr. David Chokshi said: "Right now we have enough of a margin to be able to absorb additional hospitalizations."

But with the spread of the omicron variant, the future is uncertain. State health officials say they will work with hospitals to shift resources and will reevaluate the situation weekly.