A grim milestone in New York as COVID-19 deaths cross 1,000
Washington, Mar 30: The number of deaths in New York state due to the coronavirus outbreak has crossed the 1,000 mark, with Governor Andrew Cuomo warning that thousands of people will pass away before the crisis ends in America's current COVID-19 epicentre.
Cuomo, addressing his daily press conference on the pandemic on Sunday, said the deaths due to the massive virus outbreak in the state sharply rose from 728 to 965 in just one day. At 237, this was the largest one-day increase in number of deaths since the coronavirus outbreak began. By the end of the day, the death toll in the state crossed the 1,000-mark.
The number of coronavirus deaths in New York city increased by 161 from Saturday night to Sunday morning, pushing the statewide total to over 1,000 fatalities, The New York Times said.
Cuomo warned that things will get worse as the state could see thousands of deaths before the COVID-19 crisis subsides.
"I don't see how you look at those numbers and conclude anything less than thousands of people will pass away. Because remember who it's attacking, it's attacking the vulnerable, (with) underlying illness among other. And I don't see how you get past that curve without seeing thousands of people pass away. I hope it's wrong.
"And we will continue to see the number of deaths increase. In terms of most impacted states, again, New York is still number one," he said.
The grim figure of over a 1,000 deaths comes less than a month after the first known coronavirus infection was identified in the state on March 1.
A healthcare worker, who had recently returned from Iran, was the first confirmed coronavirus case in the state.
Just days later, a lawyer in the New York suburb of New Rochelle tested positive for the virus and was at the centre of one of the earliest US coronavirus clusters. Cuomo announced that the lawyer recovered sufficiently and has now gone home from the hospital.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US stood at 143,025 and 2,509 people have died in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Over 7,000 additional coronavirus cases in New York state were recorded, bringing the statewide total to 59,513, Cuomo said.
New York city Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the number of coronavirus cases in the city alone were 32,308, "a stunning number. And we have lost, and this is so painful, 678 of our fellow New Yorkers. That means in the last 24 hours from this morning to Saturday morning, we lost 161 more people in this city. People of all walks of life, every kind of New Yorker".
The mayor said New York City remains the epicenter of the crisis nationally.
"A day will come when I will be able to no longer use that word and we all look forward to that word. But right now, we are the epicenter and the numbers are staggering," he said.
A total of about 8,000 people are currently hospitalised in New York state, including 2,000 ICU patients.
Cuomo also pointed out that 3,500 patients have been discharged.
"We know - nobody really points to these numbers but this is good news. 846 people came out of hospitals yesterday, discharged after being treated for COVID-19," he said.
He told reporters that initially the hospitalisation rate in the state was doubling every two days, then it doubled every three days, then every four days.
"Now it's doubling every six days. So you have almost a dichotomy: The doubling rate is slowing, and that is good news but the number of cases are still going up. So you're still going up towards an apex, but the rate of the doubling is slowing, which is good news.
Earlier in the day, the Governor said in an e-mail that "tragically we have now lost almost a thousand New Yorkers to this vicious virus. We mourn them deeply. Every life lost is one too many. We are fighting to save every life we can. You can help us by staying home and slowing the spread".
Cuomo said he is extending the "New York on PAUSE" policy until April 15, which means non-essential businesses and schools will continue to stay closed.
Gatherings of any size for any reason remain cancelled and all New Yorkers continue to be directed to practice social distancing -- by staying home and keeping six feet of space from others when in public. The state will re-evaluate after this additional two-week period.
He said "the increase on the trajectory of cases continues to climb".
Cuomo notes as the state tries to reduce the spread of the virus, it is also preparing for the worst.
He said a 1,000 bed temporary hospital is opening at the sprawling Javits convention center on Monday, and other temporary hospitals are being built.
Three COVID-only facilities are also planned. The USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship, will arrive in New York Harbor on Monday, staffed with 1,200 medical professionals.
On the travel advisory issued by President Donald Trump and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention for people of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Cuomo said the advisory was not for a lockdown.
"It is a travel advisory to be implemented by the states. In essence, it's nothing that we haven't been doing. Non-essential people should stay at home. So it's totally consistent with everything we're doing and I support what the President did because it affirms what we've been doing. It also affirms what New Jersey and Connecticut have been doing," he added.