Though New York just had its highest one-day death toll, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a long-awaited pronouncement Wednesday: The spread of the coronavirus is slowing. For now.
“We are flattening the curve. Thank god, thank god, thank god, thank god, thank god, and thank a lot of good people who have been working very hard,” Cuomo said in his daily press conference. “Don’t get complacent. It’s what we’re doing that’s working. Keep doing it.”
Over the last few days, the governor has cautiously suggested that the height of the coronavirus pandemic in New York, the state hit hardest by the outbreak so far, might be approaching. But on Wednesday, Cuomo pointed to the falling number of hospitalized patients as proof of the flattening infection rate. Some larger hospitals are even reporting that they’re releasing more patients than they’re taking in.
“If the hospital rate keeps decreasing the way it is now, then the system should stabilize over these next couple of weeks,” Cuomo said.
However, the death tolls are staggering — and will probably keep rising as people who have already been hospitalized for longer periods begin to die, Cuomo said. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, 779 people died.
As an explanation, the governor repeated what’s now become a kind of morbid mantra in his daily press conferences: “The longer you are on a ventilator, the less likely you will come off the ventilator.”
On one of his slides, Cuomo, who is directing all New York flags to be flown at half-mast in honor of coronavirus victims, also posted photos of the many New Yorkers who’ve died in the pandemic. So far, more than 6,200 people have died, according to the governor, who repeatedly compared the pandemic to the devastation and death that followed the 9/11 terror attacks.
“Look at how many lives we lost. I mean, it is breathtaking,” he said. “Look at the number of people we’ve lost. Remember that before you decide to go out of the house.”
“Look at the number of people we’ve lost. Remember that before you decide to go out of the house.”
Cuomo said he has no plans to ease social distancing requirements or the executive order that left New York on “pause” and shuttered businesses across the Empire State, because he credits those measures with slowing the spread. The governor will consider lifting the measures once the curve is no longer simply flattening, but actually declining.
Plus, the outbreak is far from over — if, indeed, it ever truly ends. There may always be coronavirus patients, Cuomo warned.
“You think there’s ever gonna be a morning that I wake up again in my life not worried about this in the back of my mind?” Cuomo said. “You don’t think we’re all gonna worry about now is there a second wave? You don’t think we’re all gonna worry about now when somebody sneezes in Asia, how long until that cold comes here? No.”
“We are in the midst of this,” he added. “Don’t start doing a retrospective like it’s over.”
Cover: April 7, 2020 - Albany, NY, United States: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) speaking at a press Conference at the State Capitol. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)