Citing growing hospitalization rates, Governor Cuomo announced Monday that NYC could face another indoor dining ban if numbers don’t stabilize in the next five days. As of Saturday, state data reports that 1,375 New Yorkers were hospitalized, up from 1,354 a day before, and up from 1,070 hospitalizations on November 28th. Monday also recorded the highest single-day fatality toll (80) in months.
“Do I believe between now and five days we’ll see a stabilization rate in New York City? I would be pleasantly surprised. I don’t think it is probable, but it is possible,” Cuomo said during the press conference in Midtown on Monday. “Do I think we hit hospitalization criticality and have to close down? I pray no, I hope no, I hope New Yorkers get it before we get there.”
The bottom line for the governor is whether hospitals can handle the increased patient volume. More than 4,800 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized statewide, double the amount reported on November 18 and the highest since May 22. At the peak of the crisis in the spring, roughly 19,000 were admitted, so Cuomo noted the state isn’t yet at a “critical” level of COVID-19 hospitalizations. But the growth rate is a serious concern. Cuomo announced that the New York State Department of Health is ordering hospitals across the state to increase bed capacity by 25 percent.
We spoke with Manny Colon, owner of Manny’s Bistro at 225 Columbus Avenue between 70th and 71st Streets. He expressed worry for all restaurants should an indoor ban take effect. “This delivery business doesn’t really work that well for restaurants, and building these outdoor tents, it’s too cold to sit there no matter how many heaters you put there. You have to leave the doors open. It’s really not solving the problem.” Colon noted he’d like to see indoor capacity raised a bit from the current 25% it’s at.
In regards to the pandemic, Colon went on to say “I do understand the concern of the Mayor, of the Governor, and I’m concerned as well, but if people practice social distancing, wear masks, and do everything we’re supposed to, give us the trust. Give us what we need. Otherwise we’re all going to go down and the whole city is going to go down.” A study from earlier this year stated that almost 90% of restaurant owners were struggling to pay rent.
Federal lawmakers appear to be making progress on a new pandemic relief bill, but it’s still murky if the legislation will pass, and how much the restaurant industry will be able to benefit from it.