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Death Toll Up, Hospitalizations Down In New York's Coronavirus Fight

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York is reporting the highest number of deaths to date from the coronavirus, but despite that grim number, Governor Andrew Cuomo sees a glimmer of hope that the spread of the virus might be slowing. It’s the third day in a row that new hospitalizations have declined. 

731 New Yorkers died in the past day from the virus, the highest number yet, bringing the death total to 5,489. There are now 138,836 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state.

Cuomo says there is hope, though, that the spread of the disease is slowing. The number of new hospitalizations was up slightly Monday from Sunday, but the trend is toward a decline. There were 656 new hospitalizations Monday, down significantly from a high of 1427 on April 2. Daily intubations, or placing people on ventilators, is also down as well, from a high of 351 new patients  last Thursday to 69 on Monday.

“The three-day average is down,” said Cuomo. “Which is good news.”

Cuomo says the shutdown of schools and businesses, which will continue until at least April 29, has likely slowed the spread, and he says the rate of transmission of the disease is now dependent on everyone sticking to the social distancing rules.

“Our behavior affects the number of cases,” Cuomo said.  

The governor says the naval hospital ship the USNS Comfort will be able to take up to 500 COVID patients. The ship’s normal capacity is 1000 sick people, but more space is needed to safely treat patients who are ill from the virus.

And the governor says right now every hospital has enough ventilators and personal protective equipment to take care of all of its patients, though he says they will still need more for future days and weeks. He denied that he is backing away from remarks on April 3, when he said he would send the National Guard to requisition excess ventilators from upstate hospitals to help downstate medical centers. Cuomo now says ventilators have come in from China, and the states of California, Oregon and Washington, so there is less of a pressing need.  

Cuomo says he and his team are exploring plans for how to re-open society, and the economy.

He says in order to do that safely, there has to be more testing, both for people with symptoms of the virus, and people who may have had COVID-19 and recovered, and are, for the time being, immune. He says the state’s Health Department will be working with the FDA to come up with the right test, and to bring it “to scale” to adequately test people in a state of 19 million.  

“We go back with people who have tested that they are negative or people who have tested that they have the antibodies,” Cuomo said. “Or we go back with younger people going first, still protecting, isolating the vulnerable.”  

New York is asking private companies to assist with ramping up testing, and is requesting proposals that the state could invest in. Cuomo says those interested should contact the state’s Empire State Development Corporation  at COVID19supplies@esd.ny.gov  or at 212-803-3100.

Cuomo says he’s working on a coordinated restart plan with the neighboring states of New Jersey and Connecticut.  But he says it’s going to cost money, and he is asking Congress to help in the next federal stimulus package.

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