Coronavirus: New York ER doctor says city should begin easing lockdown measures

'We must protect the vulnerable and mitigate without destroying the economy'

Louise Hall
Tuesday 28 April 2020 19:58 BST
Andrew Cuomo says this is no time to act stupidly

An emergency physician at a hospital in New York has suggested that the government should begin to end the lockdown and allow residents to get back to work.

Writing in The New York Post, Daniel G Murphy, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at St Barnabas Hospital in The Bronx, called the pandemic ‘the worst health care disaster of my 30-year ­career’ but maintained that it was time to start easing stay-at-home measures.

The physician described the slowing of coronavirus cases after the city reached its peak as a “discrete, noticeable event.”

“The way this transpired tells me the ebb and flow had more to do with the natural course of the outbreak than it did with the lockdown,” Dr Murphy claimed.

He went on to warn that the department was seeing a steep decrease in non-Covid patients, and stated that he feared patients could be too afraid to access emergency treatment because of fear of the coronavirus.

“We usually average 240 patients a day. For the last week, we averaged fewer than 100. That means our patients in this diverse, low-income community are afraid to come to the ER for non-Covid care.” he said.

He speculated that those with heart problems, asthma, bacterial infections and strokes may be needlessly dying at home out of fear of accessing emergency treatment during the pandemic.

The doctor also argued in the column that he believed the city had already formed a degree of “natural herd immunity” from the disease.

“Covid-19 is more prevalent than we think. Many New Yorkers already have the Covid-19 infection, whether they are aware of it or not,” the doctor claimed.

While emphasising the need for increased testing, Dr Murphy said that improvement of testing “should happen in parallel” to restarting the economy.

“At present, the testing is ­imperfect. We can’t wait months. We must protect the vulnerable and mitigate without destroying the economy.”

There have been more than 292,0000 recorded cases of the virus in New York State and 17,000 people have died.

On Sunday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo reported the lowest number of deaths in state since March, and outlined a loose plan the begin the gradual re-opening of the state.

However, he declined to offer up any specific dates or timelines beyond the expiration of the current order and said: “I’m not comfortable getting too far ahead of ourselves.”

Fifteenth of May is when the governor’s lockdown measures across the state are set to expire. Gov Cuomo said on Monday that he would be extending them in some areas but for others, there was a chance they may begin to be relaxed.

“I will extend them in many parts of the state but in some parts of the state, some regions, you can make the case that we should unpause on May 15. But you have to be smart about it”, he said.

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