Almost a year since Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced statewide shutdowns, Covid-19 cases, after a sharp increase last month, are on the decline.
When temperatures dropped in late 2020, Covid cases went up and continued to do so in early 2021.
“Over the summer we did a see a lull,” said Andrea Marchese, a Glen Cove Hospital ICU nurse. “It was never completely gone and it was never back to normal, but it was slower. Then in the fall, it started back again.”
Today, cases are declining again, but are still relatively high compared with the numbers seen over the summer. Marchese said there are currently up to 13 people with Covid in Glen Cove Hospital’s ICU, a section of the facility designed for eight patients.
On Feb. 20, there was 8,238 new cases in New York state, including 272 on the North Shore. The decline in cases comes as the United States surpasses 500,000 Covid-19 deaths and when vaccines are being administered to front-line workers, the elderly and people with underlying conditions.
Dr. Bradley M. Sherman, Glen Cove Hospital’s medical director, said he had seen fewer coronavirus-related check-ins lately. It appears that fewer people who contract the virus require hospitalization, and more patients are experiencing milder cases than last spring when the hospital was seeing many elderly patients.
Now, Sherman said, people are coming in earlier when experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, which ultimately leads to milder cases.
“We are accepting patients from other Northwell Hospitals as part of a load-balancing effort to help offset the higher volumes in some of the other hospitals,” he explained. “But even those numbers are coming down a little bit.”
The decline in coronavirus positives and hospitalizations can be attributed to a number of factors, Sherman said, including wider access to testing.
“I think people are less hesitant to come to the hospital to get evaluated then they were in the spring,” Sherman said. “Partially, the treatments have gotten better, [and] we’re treating patients sooner and they are recovering quicker.”
Monoclonal antibody treatment has been shown in clinical studies to decrease the number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations, along with the amount of virus in an infected person’s blood. Studies of this treatment are ongoing.
“I think now, in the last two weeks, [vaccines] are playing a role,” Sherman said. “Now that more people have gotten the second vaccine, and that it has opened up to a larger group of people, I think vaccines have definitely helped.”
Senior care facilities across the North Shore have hosted Covid-19 vaccine clinics for residents and staff. “The residents were thrilled, as were the staff,” Diane Ziems, executive director of the Atria Glen Cove, said in January. “We made it a celebration, so we had food, gave out gifts and gift certificates.”
Three clinics have been planned for the Atria. “The goal is that we’ll have 100 percent by my final clinic in March,” Ziems said, adding that vaccinations would be the beginning of a return to a sense of normalcy for the residents. “I feel there’s hope that we’re getting there.”
Battling Covid-19 in the Glen Cove Hospital ICU, Marchese said, has made the medical staff there closer. “We’ve seen a lot,” she said. “We’ve gone through a lot together.”
She urged people to continue being vigilant against the virus, and to get the vaccine if they can to help protect the community.
“It’s not just you,” Marchese said. “It’s about your family and your community and the country as a whole.”