On April 29, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.25 invoking new powers from a law passed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic to temporarily suspend or modify laws necessary to assist or aid in coping with a declared State disaster emergency. On March 3, 2020, the Governor signed into law legislation that expanded his authority to temporarily suspend, modify, or issue directives in response to a declared State disaster emergency. That legislation also accompanied a $40 million appropriation to the Governor to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sections of Title 10 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations were suspended and modified to allow the Commissioner of Health to approve and certify temporary birthing sites operated by currently-licensed birthing hospitals and currently-licensed birthing centers.
The directive related to support persons for birthing patients issued in Executive Order 202.13 was modified to allow patients giving birth to have present with them a COVID-19 asymptomatic support person for the labor, delivery and duration of the patient’s stay and/or a doula who is COVID-19 asymptomatic. The presence of a support person and/or doula is subject to exceptions for medical necessity.
The directive issued in Executive Order 202.10 that required general hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, office-based surgery practices and diagnostic treatment centers to increase the number of available beds was modified to authorize general hospitals to perform elective surgeries and procedures so long as:
- The patient receiving the elective surgery or procedure has tested negative for COVID-19 through an approved diagnostic test;
- The total available hospital inpatient capacity in the County is over thirty (30) percent;
- The total available hospital ICU capacity is over thirty (30) percent; and
- The total change in the number of hospitalized patients who are positive for COVID-19 is fewer than ten from April 17, 2020 to April 27, 2020.
The Commissioner of Health is authorized to issue guidance for the above criteria.
General Hospitals authorized under this directive must report the number and types of surgeries and procedures performed to the Department of Health. General Hospitals unable to meet the above criteria may seek a waiver from the prohibition by submitting a plan that includes the facility capacity, physical configuration, infectious disease protocols and certain specifics related to staffing capacity.
Under the newly enacted law, the Governor has the power to suspend, modify, or issue directives during a declared emergency for 30 days which may be extended for an unlimited number of 30 day periods with consent of the legislature after each subsequent period. Unless the Governor elects to extend the suspension or directives, they will expire on May 29, 2020.