County Executive Pat Ryan this afternoon stressed the need for additional resources for COVID-19 patients following a 50 percent increase in hospitalizations since Friday. He said the county presently has only one ICU bed available, and is on pace to exhaust all available beds and ventilators by the end of this week.
“Based on our projections, we will run out of both beds and ventilators by week’s end,” County Executive Ryan said. “We have been working around the clock to address this, and soon we will be announcing another initiative to add additional bed capacity in Ulster County. I’m proud that we have been successful in the production of our own PPE and in ramping up testing through our two mobile sites, but we still have urgent needs. With lives on the line, I won’t rest until we close these gaps.”The announcement of the coming shortages came on Monday. On Tuesday, Ryan explained the factors that went into the county’s projections.
As of Tuesday, the county had 402 cases with an overall hospitalization rate of 15 percent, with 5 percent of cases needing ICU care. Total cases are doubling approximately every five days. At that rate, the county will have 800 cases by April 12 and 1600 cases by April 17.
Also on Tuesday, Ryan said the county will add 100 beds at the Kate Walton Field House, a freestanding building on the Kingston High School campus that contains the school’s gym and pool. The new beds would be “step down” beds, meaning they would be used for patients who don’t need a high-level of care but aren’t yet ready to return home. Those beds could be ready as soon as next week. Also in the works: hundreds of additional bed capacity at the former Bank of America building at Tech City in the town of Ulster. While the Kate Walton Field House beds would only be the month of April, the beds at Tech City could be left in place longer if needed. According to a release, “Ulster County’s Department of Public Works with assistance from Central Hudson and the Town of Ulster, will isolate and build out the 100,000 square foot space at TechCity.”
Ryan assured concerned questioners at his Tuesday Facebook town hall that the Kate Walton Field House would be subject to “extensive cleaning and decontamination” before being used again by students, promising to return to his Army days and clean the floor with a toothbrush himself if needed.
Last Friday, Ryan put out a call seeking doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to assist in the county’s response to COVID-19. As of Monday, over 70 individuals responded. Those who are interested in volunteering should fill out the form found here.