New York Calls on Retired Medical Workers to Join Fight Against COVID-19

March 21, 2020 Updated: March 22, 2020

As the fast-spreading COVID-19 outbreak threatens to overwhelm health care resources, New York authorities are calling on retired health services professionals, as well as nursing and medical school staff and students, to join the effort to save lives.

Both New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the initiative late Friday.

“With your help, New York State is working to protect our residents and strengthen our public health system. We are looking for qualified health, mental health, and related professionals who are interested in supporting the state’s response,” the New York State COVID-19 response website states.

“New York State-certified healthcare workers can register to support healthcare facilities in need during this challenging time,” says a New York City website announcing the drive.

The announcements came after Illinois and New York state joined California on Friday in ordering all residents to stay in their homes unless they have essential reasons to go out, restricting the movement of more than 70 million Americans in the most sweeping measures undertaken yet in the United States to contain the CCP virus.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which originated from Wuhan, China and causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) coverup and mismanagement of the outbreak fueled its spread throughout China and across the world.

Epoch Times Photo
A worker wearing a face mask and protective suits disinfects chairs amid the coronavirus outbreak, in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, there are over 280,000 confirmed cases around the world as of the morning of March 21, with about 19,624 of them from the United States.

The global number of confirmed cases is widely viewed as underestimated because of under-reporting from Mainland China.

‘We Want You!’

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo both took to Twitter to announce that health care surge volunteers were needed to fight the outbreak.

“Doctors, nurses, physician assistants: WE WANT YOU! Whether you are active or retired, your city needs you on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter.

A website has been set up for people to find out how they can help.

Cuomo similarly called for retired health care professionals to join a reserve force and be ready to help with the effort. He also asked students and staff from medical and nursing schools to sign up.

“With the more beds you need more staff, so we are going to nursing schools, medical schools, asking retired doctors and nurses to come back into surface,” Cuomo said.

There is a separate New York State website where people can sign up.

The tweets were met with various responses, including from people who expressed willingness to heed the call to enlist, to those who questioned whether personal protective equipment shortages would put volunteers at risk, to those who said they had the capacity to provide supplies and even “sew surgery masks.”

The COVID-19 outbreak overwhelmed medical services in the central Chinese city of Wuhan earlier this year and now is pushing them to the limit in Italy, Spain, and France.

Medical workers in overalls stretch a patient under intensive care into the newly built Columbus Covid 2 temporary hospital to fight the new coronavirus infection, at the Gemelli hospital in Rome, on March 16, 2020. (Andreas Solaro /AFP via Getty Images)

Italy’s surging case numbers have frustrated health officials. Statements by authorities earlier on in the outbreak had raised hopes that new infections might soon start dropping off. But on Friday, officials reported further record increases, with 5,986 new cases and 627 new deaths. The country, which has Europe’s largest outbreak, now has at least 47,021 cases and 4,032 dead.

Fears of similar outbreak dynamics in the United States have fueled extraordinary steps to limit Americans’ potential exposure to the virus. The main aim of the movement restrictions and social distancing efforts is to flatten the curve, short-hand for reducing the sharp spike in infections by drawing it out over a longer period, preventing the health care system from being overloaded and buying time to develop treatments and a vaccine.

“We know the most effective way to reduce the spread of this virus is through social distancing and density reduction measures,” Cuomo said in a statement announcing the “New York State on PAUSE” executive order, which the governor signed and which goes into effect at 8 pm Sunday.

It mandates 100 percent of the workforce to stay home excluding essential services and bans temporarily all non-essential gathering of individuals of any size.

He confirmed 2,950 additional COVID-19 cases in New York State, bringing the statewide total to 7,102, and new cases in 23 counties.

Cuomo also enacted Matilda’s Law to add extra protection to New Yorkers age 70 and older.

“No, this is not life as usual,” Cuomo said as the death toll in the United States topped 200, with at least 35 in his state. “Accept it and realize it and deal with it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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