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Coronavirus Will Overwhelm N.Y. Health Care System, Cuomo Says: Live Updates

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageOutside the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building on 125th Street on Wednesday.
Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

On Thursday morning, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo repeated that New York’s hospitals would soon be swamped by patients with coronavirus, overloading a health care system without sufficient beds and medical equipment.

“The health care system is going to be overwhelmed,” Mr. Cuomo said on NBC’s “The Today Show.” “The question is now to what extent and with what consequence? That is what we are dealing with.”

New York, like the rest of the country, is grappling with a dire shortage of ventilators, crucial pieces of equipment to fight a respiratory disease like the coronavirus: “In this war, ventilators are what missiles were in World War II,” the governor said.

Mr. Cuomo criticized the growing number of celebrities and athletes who have been tested for the coronavirus, seemingly prioritized even as tests remain elusive for many people, including health care workers and those with underlying diseases.

Eight entire teams in the N.B.A. have been tested, and high-profile people, from politicians to the Hollywood elite, have secured testing.

“I have no reason to believe it is not happening, and if someone is getting priority, that is 100 percent wrong,” Mr. Cuomo said.

Four of Ms. Fusco’s other children who contracted the virus are hospitalized, three of them in critical condition, a relative said.

Nearly 20 other relatives are quarantined at their homes, praying in isolated solitude, unable to mourn their deep collective loss together.

“If they’re not on a respirator, they’re quarantined,” said the relative, Roseann Paradiso Fodera. “It is so pitiful. They can’t even mourn the way you would.”

The virus’s toll on the Fusco family accounts for three of the five deaths in the state.

As of Wednesday, 2,382 people in New York had tested positive for the coronavirus, an increase of more than 1,000 since Tuesday. Mayor Bill de Blasio said later in the day that 1,871 people in New York City had tested positive, compared with 814 on Tuesday.

Mr. Cuomo attributed much of the jump to an increase in testing. Of the 14,597 people to be tested so far, nearly 5,000 were tested on Tuesday.

In New Jersey, officials said on Wednesday that another 162 people had tested positive for the virus, raising the state’s total of confirmed cases to 427. Officials also said there had been three more deaths linked to the virus, bringing New Jersey’s total to five.

Officials in Connecticut said on Wednesday that a man in his 80s who had been hospitalized at Danbury Hospital had died from the virus, the state’s first known death linked to the virus.

In the past week, as testing has expanded and more people have gotten sick, the number of people to test positive for the virus in New York State has increased 42 percent a day on average.

“You are at a point of deciding: How many people are going to live, how many people are going to die?” Mr. Cuomo said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Cuomo said that cases of the new coronavirus in New York City would peak in the next 45 days.

If that happens, the number of patients requiring hospital care would substantially outstrip the available supply of beds, according to a Harvard analysis.

Researchers considered three scenarios for an outbreak of that duration in the city, assuming that cases ramp down as quickly as they peak.

In the moderate projection — in which an astonishing 40 percent of the city’s adults will be sickened by the virus over the next three months — making room for all the patients requiring hospital care would mean emptying or adding more than three times the number of beds typically occupied in the city’s largest hospital “referral region.” That is an area that includes most parts of the city outside the Bronx.

The projected shortfall is even more dramatic for patients who need critical care. To meet the projected need, city hospitals would have to either empty or add more than 11 times the number of intensive-care beds that are currently occupied.

Our article on the researchers’ findings provides more details about how the team made its calculations, and how New York compares with other hospital markets in the country.

State lawmakers in New York and across the United States are trying to balance their official duties with concern about getting the coronavirus as the outbreak spreads and tens of millions of Americans drastically alter their everyday activities.

In Albany, N.Y., where two State Assembly members have tested positive for the virus, senators have been voting either one at a time or in small groups in nearly empty chambers. In Boston, public hearings have been postponed, while legislators in California and Mississippi, among other states, are not expected to return to work until the crisis concludes.

After the two Assembly members, Helene Weinstein and Charles Barron, both Brooklyn Democrats, tested positive for the virus, legislative sessions were canceled, other lawmakers and staff members sought tests and lawmakers’ priorities shifted.

Past debates about criminal justice reform and climate change have faded, overtaken by financial concerns as states grapple with swelling unemployment figures and the possibility that tax receipts will plummet.

The state’s health commissioner, Howard Zucker, said his office was aware of the high number of cases in Borough Park and was investigating it as a possible cluster, or interconnected group of cases that can be traced to the same source. Such a group emerged in New Rochelle this month.

“There’s two possibilities,” Dr. Zucker said. “There’s a lot of testing that’s going on or potentially one or more individuals that have been infected. So that’s something that’s new on the radar and we’re investigating that.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio said late Wednesday that the city’s health commissioner had reviewed the Borough Park cases and had not found a common link among them.

“At this time, she does NOT believe there is any cluster,” the spokeswoman, Freddi Goldstein, said on Twitter.

On Friday, Liz Baldwin, a librarian at the New York Public Library, was told that she wouldn’t be coming to work for at least the next two weeks.

She did not think long about what to do next — recently, a friend in China had told her about the couriers of Wuhan, who, on scooters and bikes, helped keep a locked-down city supplied and fed.

“I thought, you know, I can do that,” she said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

She posted on Instagram and Twitter asking if anyone might be willing to help. They were.

On Wednesday morning, Corona Couriers counted more than 30 volunteers; by the end of the day, that number had exceeded 50.

Courier groups are sprouting up in dense communities around the country. An operational Slack room is used to coordinate the groups and many of those in it have a background in social work and volunteering.

Among members, there is extensive discussion about safety, hygiene and “what it means to have a no-contact service,” Ms. Baldwin said.

The couriers work for free, asking only for the cost of what’s delivered. “This is a mutual aid project,” Ms. Baldwin said.

Initial requests for help came from friends and neighbors in Brooklyn; this week, a Brooklyn branch of the Democratic Socialists of America added Corona Couriers to a growing list of mutual aid organizations, and the couriers started fielding requests from across the borough.

Generally, no (legal) request will go unanswered. Art supplies? Delivered over the weekend by Ms. Baldwin herself. An order for fresh herbs? Done. Pantry staples? As many as can fit in a backpack, within the day.

Last week, Daniel Szymczyk, a student and former bike courier, knew he wouldn’t be tending bar for the foreseeable future, so he started asking around about ways to help.

Someone forwarded his information to Corona Couriers. He’s been delivering all week.

Inmates in New York City’s jail system with underlying medical issues, including those with pre-existing conditions, could be released in the coming days in a bid to stem the coronavirus from spreading in its correction facilities, Mr. de Blasio said late Wednesday.

In an interview on the radio station WCBS, Mr. de Blasio said that inmates who were being held on “minor” charges might also be released. The city has about 5,400 inmates in custody.

The push to identify inmates who could be released came as city officials announced that a person in custody at the sprawling Rikers Island jail complex was infected, raising fears that the virus could circulate in its close quarters.

The mayor’s office is working with the city’s five district attorneys on the plan, which could involve the release of inmates who are over 50 and have health problems, according to city officials.

Officials with the district attorneys’ offices are trying to identify inmates considered safe to be released and those who are not, according to two people briefed on the plan.

The city could release inmates who are being held on parole violations, the people said, although doing so would require the state Board of Parole’s approval. Judges might also have to sign off on the release of some inmates.

“Defense attorneys are free to make whatever applications they like to the court,” a spokesman for the state court system said. “Judges will rule on those individual judicial determinations, on a case-by-case basis, as they do in any other circumstance.”

In the radio interview, Mr. de Blasio said that “we’ve got to balance here public safety with the very real concern about health in the jails.”

“That’s something we’re going to be looking at every single day,” he said.

Jonah Engel Bromwich, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Alan Feuer, Michael Gold, Christina Goldbaum, Matthew Haag, John Herrman, Corey Kilgannon, John Leland, Jesse McKinley, Andy Newman, Azi Paybarah, Jan Ransom, Margot Sanger-Katz, Nate Schweber, Liam Stack, Alex Vadukul and Michael Wilson contributed reporting.

Source: NY times

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