De Blasio: NYC Now Focusing On 'Thresholds' To Measure Progress In COVID-19 Fight

WCBS 880 Newsroom
May 22, 2020 - 10:51 am

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that the city is changing how it measures progress being made in the fight against coronavirus: it will now focus on “thresholds” instead of “trend lines.”

The city has been using trend lines that showed how key indicators (like new hospitalizations for COVID-19) were increasing or decreasing over time. Now it's using thresholds to gauge how long numbers have been below a certain level.

“What matters more now is staying at a low level and keeping it that way,” de Blasio said.

The move to thresholds—essentially set levels the city wants to stay below when tracking its indicators—comes as the city continues to see “sustained progress” in keeping numbers down, the mayor said.

“It’s a measure of improvement,” he said. “It’s a change for a reason. It’s because actually things got better and kept better for a meaningful period of time.”

The three indicators have remained the same even though the city is changing how it judges them. The three indicators are: daily hospital admissions for suspected COVID-19; the percentage of people in New York City tested who were positive for COVID-19; and the daily number of patients in public hospital ICUs with suspected COVID-19.

The first two indicators were good Friday, de Blasio said, while the number of people in ICUs had not yet met the threshold the city is aiming for.

When it comes to daily hospital admissions, de Blasio said the city wants to keep the threshold under 200 patients a day for 10 to 14 days. That number was 76 patients on Wednesday, he said, calling it “good news.”

Hospital admissions
NYC Mayor's Office

The second indicator—the percentage of residents tested who were positive for COVID-19—has a threshold of 15 percent, de Blasio said. That number was 11 percent on Wednesday. The mayor said it has been below 15 percent for the past 10 days.

Percent residents positive
NYC Mayor's Office

As for the daily number of people in public hospital ICUs, de Blasio said the threshold is 375 patients. He said it’s a difficult number to drop to but we’re “steadily getting there.” There were 451 patients in these ICUs Wednesday—a drop of more than 100 in the past 10 days, the mayor said.

icu patients
NYC Mayor's Office

De Blasio said he is optimistic the city can reach the state’s separate seven criteria for reopening under Phase 1 of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan by the first half of June. That allows the reopening of construction and manufacturing, as well as retail businesses for curbside and in-story pickup.

After de Blasio's briefing, Cuomo said it will be up to the state — not the city — to make the decision about reopening.

“No local official can open or close,” Cuomo said, noting that the state has established its own set of metrics intended to measure the safety of reopening.

“We said at the beginning it’s going to be one standard that is data-driven. There’s no politics here. What’s safe is safe," the governor said.

Cuomo's standards, which apply to the entire state, are based around measures including whether a region has had an overall decline in the number of hospitalizations and the availability of hospital beds.

Cuomo's top aide, Melissa DeRosa, said the indicators used by the city and the state “are in line with one another” and that the two administrations are in constant communication.

The number of coronavirus cases in the city reached 192,840 on Friday, with 50,770 hospitalized since the outbreak began.

There were 16,232 confirmed deaths and 4,771 “probable” deaths from the coronavirus, for a combined death toll of 21,003.

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