New York's Coronavirus Death Toll Just Spiked, And the Worst Is Yet to Come

The state just saw the greatest one-day increase in deaths since the crisis began.
April 4, 2020, 3:20pm
new york city coronavirus
John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx

New York had a grim 24 hours, but the worst is yet to come.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday that the total number of coronavirus deaths in the state has risen to 3,565, up 630 deaths from the number reported on Friday morning. That’s the highest one-day increase to date.

Less than a week ago, fewer than 1,000 people had died. Deaths in the state have more than tripled in under a week.

There are more 113,000 confirmed cases in the state now, up from about 102,000 on Friday. Nearly 16,000 people are currently hospitalized, the governor said. Of those hospitalizations, 4,126 patients are in intensive care, an increase of nearly 400 from Friday.

New York City has been hit particularly hard: 2,624 people have died in the city alone, up more than 800 from the number that New York City officials gave on Friday at 5 p.m.

“We’re not at the apex,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. “I’d like the apex to be tomorrow,” he added. “I want this all to be over. It’s only gone on for 30 days,” he added, noting that different models indicate the state is between a few days and two weeks away from deaths and infections peaking.

As it prepares to hit that apex, New York is accepting donations of ventilators from around the country and the world. China is sending 1,000 ventilators, set to arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday. The state of Oregon sent another 140 ventilators. Cuomo has said that New York will need 30,000 ventilators to handle the influx of patients.

But orders for new ventilators haven’t been fulfilled. The governor said the state had tried to buy 17,000 ventilators, but “that order never came through,” Cuomo said, because there’s too much demand for ventilators across the country. “So what do we do? We find what equipment we have, we use it the best we can.”

He plans to move about 500 ventilators from hospitals in upstate New York to downstate hospitals, where the coronavirus cases are concentrated.

New York continues to have by far the largest number of cases in the U.S. There were about 278,000 confirmed cases across the country on Saturday, about 40 percent of which were in New York state. New Jersey, the state that was second-hardest hit, had only 30,000 confirmed cases.

“This stresses this country, this state, in a way nothing ever has in my lifetime,” the governor said, adopting his role as psychologist-in-chief. “This is so emotionally taxing that you can’t even begin — you can’t even quantify the effect on society and the effect on individuals.”

To deal with a shortage of doctors and nurses, Cuomo said he’d be signing an executive order to allow doctors and nurses set to graduate this year to help out and treat coronavirus patients.

“When we first started, the main concern was having enough beds,” the governor said. “It has now shifted to equipment and staff.”

The state will accept the help of 85,000 volunteer medical professionals, 22,000 of whom are coming in from out of state to help alleviate the crisis in New York. On Friday evening, New York City sent out an emergency alert to city residents’ cell phones: “Attention all healthcare workers,” it read. “New York City is seeking licensed healthcare workers to support healthcare facilities in need.”

Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Convention Center, which has been converted rapidly into a field hospital, was originally supposed to be a treatment center for patients who did not have coronavirus. Cuomo announced that it will instead be used to treat COVID-19 patients. The governor said on Saturday that the federally-staffed, 2,500-bed facility would be crucial for handling the influx of new patients in New York state.

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Cover: First Responders amid the Coronavirus Pandemic in New York City. (John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx)