Coronavirus | New York State surpasses 1,000 deaths

The emergency field hospital in New York’s Central Park across from the Mount Sinai Hospital, Sunday, March 29, 2020.

The emergency field hospital in New York’s Central Park across from the Mount Sinai Hospital, Sunday, March 29, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AP

The total number of State-wide deaths isn’t expected to be released until Monday, but with at least 250 additional deaths recorded outside the city as of Sunday morning, the State’s total fatalities was at least 1,026.

New York State’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak climbed Sunday above 1,000, less than a month after the first known infection in the State. Most of those deaths have come in just the past few days.

Also read | Five members of U.S. Congress test positive for virus

New York City reported in the evening that its toll had risen to 776. The total number of State-wide deaths isn’t expected to be released until Monday, but with at least 250 additional deaths recorded outside the city as of Sunday morning, the State’s total fatalities was at least 1,026. The virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, has torn through New York with frightening speed.

The first known infection in the State was discovered March 1 in a healthcare worker who recently returned from Iran. Two days later, the State got its second case, a lawyer from the suburb of New Rochelle.

By March 10, Governor Andrew Cuomo had declared a “containment area” in New Rochelle that shuttered area schools and houses of worship. That same day, the metropolitan area saw its first fatality — a man who worked at a harness track in Yonkers and lived in New Jersey. By March 12, the State had banned all gatherings of more than 500 people, darkening Broadway theatres and sports arenas. A day later, the first New York resident died, an 82-year-old woman with emphysema.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio closed New York City’s schools March 15. More severe restrictions came March 20, when Mr. Cuomo ordered all non-essential workers to stay home, barred gatherings of any size and instructed anyone out in public to stay at least 6 feet from other people. At the time, only 35 New Yorkers had been killed by the virus. That was only nine days ago.

It took Spain 18 days to go from its first death to its 1,000th, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Italy took 21 days. New York state took 16 days.

‘Unprecedented’ surge in 911 calls

New Yorkers are hearing a constant wail of sirens as weary ambulance crews respond to a record volume of 911 calls. The city’s ambulances are responding to about 6,000 calls a day — more than 50% more than average. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Sunday that the last five days have been the busiest stretch in the history of the city’s EMS operation. “This is unprecedented,” Mr. de Blasio said. “We have never seen our EMS system get this many calls — ever.”

Mr. Nigro said the surge is delaying responses to lower-level calls. Mr. De Blasio said the city is planning to shift personnel onto EMS crews to help keep up with demand.

‘Days before supplies run out’

Mayor De Blasio said he has asked the federal government to deliver 400 more ventilators to city hospitals by Wednesday and warned that without reinforcements the city will run out of masks, gowns and other hospital supplies in a week.

With the expected peak of cases in the city still two to three weeks away, Mr. de Blasio said he has asked the U.S. military to aid in sending new waves of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to the city. He said Sunday that more than 76,000 health professionals, including many who have recently retired from the field, have volunteered to help in the coronavirus fight.

The USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds, 12 operating rooms and a full medical staff, is scheduled to arrive in the city on Monday. It will be used to treat non-coronavirus patients to free up space in city hospitals. A 68-bed field hospital is being built in Manhattan’s Central Park. Samaritan’s Purse, a charity run by Christian evangelical preacher Franklin Graham, built a similar temporary facility in Italy to help deal with the crisis there. He said the New York City version could be up and running Tuesday.

Poor neighbourhoods hard hit

Coronavirus is overwhelming some of New York City’s poorest neighbourhoods, according to new data released by the city. Queens accounts for 32% of the city’s more than 30,000 confirmed cases as of Saturday - more than any other borough. Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona, which are generally poor neighbourhoods, densely packed and have large non-English speaking populations, have been among the hardest hit, according to a city map showing percent ranges of people testing positive for the disease. In those areas, between 69% and 86% of the tests done have come back positive.

A hospital in Elmhurst has been overrun with coronavirus cases. Statistics on coronavirus cases do not reflect everyone who may have the virus, because many people have been told to manage their illness at home and are not getting tested.

The number of patients being discharged at the State’s hospitals after they’ve been treated for coronavirus has increased daily to a high of 845 on Saturday, Mr. Cuomo said. In all, more than 3,500 people have been discharged. They include a lawyer from the New York City suburbs connected to one of the earliest U.S. coronavirus clusters. Lawrence Garbuz’s family and neighbour were infected, as well as members of his synagogue.

More federal money

Mr. Cuomo spoke with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday after lambasting the federal government for giving the State a fraction of needed funding as it faces a potential revenue shortfall of up to $15 billion due to the economic damaged caused by the virus.

“They committed to right the wrong in the next federal bill that passes, and the Governor is committed to working with them to make that a reality,” Mr. Cuomo’s senior adviser Richard Azzoparadi said. Mr. Schumer called the conversation “long and productive.”

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 7:29:45 PM |

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