New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state is taking immediate measures to step up the ability of healthcare facilities to deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

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During a news briefing with top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Cuomo announced hospitals are being ordered to increase capacity by 25% and doctors and nurses who currently aren't actively practicing are to be relicensed bypassing normal avenues.

Similar steps were taken at the onset of the pandemic with hospitals ordered at that time to add hundreds of beds in order to deal with an influx of COVID cases.

Broome County prepared the Veterans Memorial Arena to take in patients, a move that was not needed as local hospitals were able to keep up with patient load.

County Executive Jason Garnar has said in recent briefings that Broome is in constant contact with the hospitals to keep track of ICU beds and general capacity.

Dozens of medical beds have been brought to the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in preparation for possible cornavirus patients. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
(Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News file)

The Governor says, now that New York State has a better system of keeping track of patients, hospital beds and Intensive Care Unit capacity than it had during the initial outbreak in the spring, the system should not need to activate as many emergency facilities like field hospitals as in March and April.

Cuomo says hospitals are also going to go to flex response more quickly with overstressed areas closing hospital admissions and working in cooperation with other networks in the state.

Cuomo says as the state monitors the spread and hospitalization rates, it is prepared to close down indoor dining in affected areas.

Dr. Fauci says he's certain, given New York's contingency plans, he does not expect the state to "be caught short-handed."

He says he expects to see the effects of the Thanksgiving surge to come right at the beginning of the Christmas and Hanukkah resulting in "a spread on a spread."  Fauci says he expects the peak to fall in mid-January.

Dr. Fauci admits it is very hard to get people to understand that being among people you love does not protect families from the virus.

Fauci told Cuomo he even believes the ten-person limit of gatherings in the home touted by the Governor may be too many.

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