National Guard troops listen as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to the press at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, on March 27, 2020.
Bryan R. Smith | AFP | Getty Images
The number of deaths in New York state related to the coronavirus pandemic has topped 500, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.
Cuomo revealed that the number of COVID-19-linked fatalities jumped dramatically overnight by 134, bringing the current death toll statewide to 519.
COVID-19 cases are “still doubling, and that’s still bad news,” he said in New York City at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is setting up temporary a hospital.
“The rate of increase is slowing. But the number of cases are still going up.”
New York state, which is the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, confirmed 7,377 new cases overnight, bringing the total in the state to 44,635.
More than half of those cases, 25,300, are in New York City.
Cuomo also Friday extended school closures across the state by two weeks to April 15 as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise.
“When you look at the number of cases that’s still increasing, it only makes sense to keep the schools closed,” he said.
“We want to see the rate slowing and then we want to see the number of cases going down or flattening,” he said.
The governor, referring to medical workers, said, “This is a rescue mission that you’re on.”
“In 10 years from now, you’ll be talking about today with your children or your grandchildren and you will shed a tear because you will remember the lives lost and you’ll remember their faces, you’ll remember their names,” Cuomo said.
He called on hospitals across the state to double their capacity to deal with the virus outbreak.
The state currently has 53,000 hospital beds, but will need 140,000 of them for coronavirus patients over the next three weeks when the outbreak is expected to peak in New York, he said.
“We’re asking hospitals to try to increase capacity 100% … We’re looking at converting dorms. We’re looking at converting hotels,” he said.
The state is also facing a dramatic shortage of medical supplies.
New York state currently has 1.2 million N95 masks, 4.6 million surgical masks, 1.5 million exam gloves, 15,000 gowns and coveralls, and 3,000 ventilators.
The federal government has contributed hundreds of thousands of masks, gloves and gowns and 4,400 ventilators to the state, but New York still needs 20 million N95 masks, 30 million surgical masks, 45 million exam gloves, 20 million gowns and coveralls, and 30,000 ventilators, according to a chart displayed at the news conference.
“We’re seeing an increasing number of deaths because of the length of time people need to be on the ventilator,” Cuomo said.
COVID-19 patients also need ventilators a lot longer than most other respiratory patients, 11 to 21 days compared with three or four days, Cuomo said.
Governor Cuomo shows a chart regarding items needed to fight coronavirus.
Source: New York State
The United States now has more COVID-19 cases than Italy and China, making the U.S. the largest outbreak in the world. New York City is the epicenter of the major outbreak in the state, where cases have been doubling every three days.
Cuomo said he worries the outbreak will stretch U.S. hospitals to their maximum capacity, saying the nation doesn’t have enough hospital beds or ventilators to handle a pandemic.
“This is an invisible beast. This is an insidious beast,” Cuomo said. “This is going to be weeks and weeks and weeks. It’s going to be a long day. It’s going to be an ugly day. And it’s going to be a sad day.”
State and city officials plan to close some streets in the nation’s largest city and may close parks and playgrounds there to contain the coronavirus outbreak as cases across the state surge, Cuomo said earlier in the week.