880 In Depth: Is the Tri-State prepared for a second wave of coronavirus?

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Nine months into the coronavirus pandemic in the United States and numbers only continue to worsen.

Though cases came under control in the Tri-State area during the summer months, the numbers have been steadily increasing as we progress into the fall.

On this week’s In Depth Podcast, WCBS 880 seeks to answer the question: How ready are we the handle this surge?

“We are seeing a gradual increase in the number of COVID-19 cases,” says Holy Name Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Adam Jarrett.

The hospital was overwhelmed during the height of the pandemic in April and though they have stocked up on personal protective equipment for all staff members, the number of hospitalizations are again going up.

Jarrett says they have all the supplies they could need, but staffing might pose a new issue.

“You can't just go out and get a critically care trained nurse or get a critically care trained doctor,” the doctor said.

He remains optimistic that the hospital can weather the upcoming storm and says that treatments for the virus have improved since March and April.

“We are cautiously optimistic that we're not going to see the exponential growth that we saw in March, but we just don't know,” Jarrett said.

Though, he stresses that COVID-19 shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“We are not so much better that it is not still a potentially very lethal disease,” the doctor said.

Michael Dowling, who heads Northwell Health on Long Island, says they are also beginning to see a rise in cases – around 100 patients per day.

“I know Northwell can handle at least 1,000 COVID patients daily without much disruption at all. It’s going to be easy to handle,” he said.

At the height of the pandemic in New York, the hospital had 3,500 patients.

Dowling says that New York’s largest hospital system is prepared for the second wave, but he doesn’t want people thinking that they can let their guards down.

“When people talk about people getting tired and fatigued, I think we just got to buckle up, tighten the seatbelts and know that when you’re in a pandemic like this, it doesn’t come for five or six months and go away. It lasts for a year or two,” he said.

The CEO of Northwell Health says he’s especially tired of hearing people say masks intrude on their freedoms.

“I mean if you make that argument – Why should people stop at a traffic light? Why should people not to drive on the opposite side of the road? This is a ridiculous argument,” Dowling said.

He notes that treatments are getting better and while he doesn’t think the second wave will be as bad as the first, people can’t get lax on COVID restrictions.

Vaccines should be available in the next year, and then things may begin to return to normal.

“Over the next couple of weeks, I think we would be getting past having an operational plan,” he explains.

Dowling says health care workers and frontline workers will be among the first to receive whatever vaccine is approved by the federal government.

Hear more about the second COVID-19 wave with Michael Dowling and Adam Jarrett on this week’s In Depth Podcast. Listen wherever you get your podcasts.