• Manu Mohan

How did New York City go from the worst affected to the least affected city!

Updated: Jun 19

New York City went from 760+ deaths/day (as a 3 day moving average) as on the 12th of April to less than 50 deaths/day as of June 10th. They re-opened on the 15th of May!! A densely populated city that contributed to ~50% of all US COVID-19 cases and had a healthcare system with only 15% of their hospitals as public, How did they pull this off!? What learnings could we take from this! While it's universally accepted that US dropped their ball handling the onset of COVID-19, NY did a pretty good job fighting it!

After a lot of political push, it was decided to reopen NY by Mid May! They came up with a plan as early as April 15th! It's a point to note that the state did not give in to all the pressure from different sides and decided to only open when they could control the rate of transmission! And most importantly, they knew what they should be tracking. Rate of Transimission!

There were 4 key action steps:

  1. Control the rate of transmission: to less than ~1.2. From the start of this pandemic where the Rate of transimission was more than 1.6, NY currently has it now controlled around 0.7, the lowest In all of US states post re-opening.

  2. Surge/Flex : This is where the state brought in public and private healthcare systems under one roof. This ensured the rapid sharing of hospital equipment, ventilators, PPE kits. It also ensured a COVID positive patient always knew the closest hospitals s/he could go to for treatment, They were prepared to shut down if hospital occupancy in communities increased >70%.

  3. Test/Trace: The state along with help from some private players created a massive testing capability. When the re-opened close to 15th May, they ensured they had a massive tracing network which could ensure tracing everyone who have come in close proximity to someone diagnosed +ve. This is a very very vital step that ensured they had a smooth reopening of the state. Something which we in India dearly miss.

  4. Phased return to 'New Normal': State Governor Andrew Cuomo has been emphasizing on the fact how they wouldn't be going back to the normal as people knew. He repeatedly said, there would be a 'New Normal' and every industry and corporation should be ready for this. This enabled companies take a more proactive approach. oA lack of such a clear directive from our state and central has definitely affected our re-opening.

While it is very vital for our economy to start functioning, a not-so-careful approach to reopening can affect us adversely and put us into a much brutal downward spiral. Because it takes ~10 days for infections to grow and show up in the testing results, we need to be extra aware of the situation and take all needed precautions. We need to take some important learnings from New York and implement them judiciously. India, especially Mumbai, reopening at a state where +95% of our ICU beds and hospitals are occupied aren't promising signs at all.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on the article! Hope to cover more on COVID-19 in the upcoming days as we continue our struggle to grapple against this pandemic which has shaken the world!

Stay Safe. Stay Home.


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