The state of New York has the most confirmed cases and deaths of COVID-19, and a new report by The Wall Street Journal details how the state’s policies and missed warning signs made residents more vulnerable to the virus, leading to more deaths and a higher risk of contraction.
The Wall Street Journal spoke to nearly 90 frontline medical professionals, from doctors to hospital administrators and government officials, to understand what went wrong. Improper patient transfer with some patients being too ill to be transferred between hospitals led to many hospitals not receiving records of prior treatment. Insufficient isolation protocols, with hospitals mixing infected patients with uninfected patients, also caused a domino effect of new virus contractions, according to the report.
Although hospitals added hundreds of new beds, numerous hospital staff members said they were not trained to work in the areas of hospitals they were posted in, leading to patients being improperly treated. On top of that, several hospitals had staffing shortages.
The staffing shortages led to hospitals losing track at times of admitted patients. At Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn, a family member called the ER to inquire about their mother in her 80s. An ER doctor said that when he looked the patient up, he realized she had died two days prior. “This is happening daily,” the doctor said during the peak.
Not all of this falls on hospitals, though. The government played a large role in the state’s oversight of combating the virus, too. The state and New York City government and hospital officials switched their guidelines about when infected frontline workers should return to work. Government leaders focused more on giving ventilators to hospitals, though many of the ventilators acquired by the government were either defective or damaged, while many hospitals had minimal protective equipment and COVID-19 tests.
The article touched on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s delayed responses in containing the spread of COVID-19 even when other states with fewer cases began taking action.
While leaders in states like California and Ohio acted quickly to contain the spread, Messrs. Cuomo and de Blasio delayed taking measures to close the state and city even as the number of cases swelled, despite warnings from doctors, nurses, and schoolteachers. California issued a statewide lockdown with 1,005 cases as of March 19, while New York remained open with 5,704 cases, according to updated Johns Hopkins data.
At time of publish, the novel coronavirus pandemic has infected nearly 2 million people in the US and led to more than 113,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The full article really digs into how each action taken by the state’s government health officials had significant consequences. I strongly suggest you read the entire Wall Street Journal article.