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Stay up to date with the latest news on the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. We'll post regular updates from NPR and regional news from the WRVO newsroom. You can also find updates on our live blog.

Hospital officials concerned about having enough staff to care for more coronavirus patients

Payne Horning
WRVO News (file photo)

Onondaga County officials announced another 202 positive cases of the coronavirus Sunday, with 102 residents currently hospitalized. There’s one big concern as hospitalizations related to the coronavirus, have reached their highest numbers since the pandemic hit central New York.

Upstate University Hospital CEO Dr. Robert Corona said there are enough beds for COVID-19 patients. The facility has long had plans for creating space. The thing that worries him at this point is whether there is enough staff to take care of them.

“There’s a lot of staff in the community so they’re getting exposures, so we have to quarantine them, or they become positive for COVID through community spread for the most part,” said Corona. “And if we don’t have adequate staff, it doesn’t matter how much capacity we have, physically, it’s not going to matter, because we won’t be able to staff the beds.”

He says that’s most important in the intensive care units, because those staffers have particular training.

Upstate does have contingency plans in place if it becomes a widespread issue.

"We could be to the point where we have to start cancelling surgeries, and pull back in clinics and bring staff in from clinics,” Corona said. “We’ve also recently asked people recently retired to come out of retirement to help out. We’re looking for students to help out.”

Corona said all central New York hospitals are working together to ensure capacity and staff. As an example, he said Auburn hospital is taking some of the less serious COVID-19 cases from Upstate’s facility.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.