NYC hospitals to get $140 million funding boost during Omicron surge

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Big Apple hospitals will receive nearly $140 million in funding as they grapple with a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations from the highly contagious Omicron variant, officials announced Wednesday. 

The city’s public hospital system, NYC Health + Hospitals, will receive an extra $111 million in support from City Hall and smaller, private safety-net hospitals will get $27 million in loans from Goldman Sachs. 

“Our hospitals are under some degree of strain right now, compounded by the staff outages because of COVID infections related to Omicron,” Dave Chokshi, the city’s Commissioner of Health, said during a press conference at Elmhurst Hospital, which was famously hard hit during the early days of the pandemic last spring. 

“Cases are increasing and hospitalizations are increasing, I expect that will continue in the near-term.” 

The Goldman Sachs company logo is on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Goldman Sachs is lending $27 million to private safety-net hospitals.
REUTERS / Brendan McDermid

The $111 million in funding to H+H will be used to hire more nurses and support staff, and the loans for private hospitals will give them the liquidity they need to stay afloat amid the surge. The repayment terms for the loans weren’t immediately made clear but the funds could be reimbursed by FEMA down the line. 

Hospitalizations rates for COVID-19 in the five boroughs are the highest seen since May 2020 and are up more than 50 percent this week compared to the same time period in 2021 when the vaccine was just starting to be distributed, state data show.

Across the city, hospital beds are about 75 to 80 percent full, and a peak in cases isn’t expected for another two to three weeks, Chokshi said. 

Dave Chokshi said NYC hospitals are facing a “strain” with the latest surge.
AP

“What we are looking for is a deceleration in the rate of growth … we’re not seeing that yet,” Chokshi said. 


Follow the latest news on the Omicron variant with the New York Post’s live coverage


“We are seeing some leveling off of that just in recent days, it’s a little bit too early to tell whether that’s just due to holiday testing patterns or a real leveling off.”

When asked if the hospitalization numbers are misleading and if they include people who were hospitalized for other reasons, and also happened to test positive for COVID-19, Chokshi responded: “The short answer is no.” 

Medical workers carry a patient to a hospital in New York.
Even as hospitalizations in NYC increase, experts say that the peak for Omicron cases has not quite happened yet.
Wang Ying / Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

“I don’t think that we’re scaring New Yorkers in terms of what we’re conveying. We do have to look at all the data together. We have seen a steep increase in COVID hospitalizations,” he said. 

Nationwide, hospital admissions are down 50 percent compared to last year’s surge, even as new coronavirus cases tripled in the past few weeks, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.

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