N.Y. Virus Deaths Hit New High, but Hospitalizations Slow

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New Jersey’s toll also hit a new one-day high on Tuesday, with 232 people dying of the virus since the previous day, Gov. Philip D. Murphy said. On Sunday and Monday, deaths in the state were in the double digits.

N.Y. Virus Deaths Hit New High

 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut see one-day death spikes.
  • Virus deaths may be undercounted as more people die at home.
  • New Jersey closes parks and forests. New York has yet to follow.
  • In N.Y.C., the coronavirus is killing men twice as often as women.
  • New York says it has enough ventilators for now.
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ImageA refrigerated trailer serving as a temporary morgue at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
Credit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

Five weeks into the coronavirus outbreak, officials in New York and New Jersey, the two states hit hardest by the pandemic, hoped that the number of virus-related deaths had reached a peak and would flatten or drop for a third straight day.

It did not happen.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Tuesday that 731 people had died of the virus since Monday, the state’s highest one-day total yet by more than 100.

“Behind every one of those numbers is an individual, is a family, is a mother, is a father, is a sister, is a brother,” Mr. Cuomo said at his daily briefing in Albany. “So a lot of pain again today for many New Yorkers.”

 

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Connecticut also reported its biggest one-day increase in deaths on Tuesday, with Gov. Ned Lamont saying 71 people had died since the day before. By comparison, Mr. Lamont had reported 17 new deaths on Monday.

The three states together reported 1,034 deaths in a day, the first time that the region’s one-day toll topped 1,000.

 
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More people have died in New York and New Jersey, by far, than in any other state. The two states together account for more than half of the virus-related deaths in the United States. New York’s toll was 5,489 as of Tuesday; New Jersey’s was 1,232. In Connecticut, where the virus appears to have been slower to spread, 277 people have died.

“It’s almost unfathomable, folks, when you think about it,” Mr. Murphy said.

Still, all three governors said there were signs that the virus’s spread was slowing.

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‘I Know It Feels Like a Lifetime,’ Cuomo Says of Coronavirus Crisis

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said that coronavirus deaths hit a new one-day peak in the state, but that hospitalizations were slowing.

The total number of newly hospitalized is up from yesterday. But when you look at the three-day averaging of these numbers, the three-day average is down, which is good news. This is the three-day hospitalization rate.

We tend not to look at any one day, day-to-day. It’s up somewhat. But if you look at the three-day average, it’s moving down, which is good news. The bad news is 5,489 New Yorkers have lost their lives to this virus.

That is up from 4,758. That is the largest single-day increase. And we talk about numbers, but that’s 731 people who we lost — behind every one of those numbers is an individual, is a family, is a mother, is a father, is a sister, is a brother.

So a lot of pain. Department of Health developed an antibody testing regimen that the Department of Health has approved for use in New York State.

That has to be brought to scale, and the Department of Health is going to be working with the F.D.A. to do just that. This tests the blood to determine whether or not you have the antibodies, which means you had the virus and resolved the virus. I know it feels like a lifetime. It’s been so disruptive.

So abrupt. So frightening. So disorienting, but it’s only been 37 days, right? Everything in context and everything in perspective.

 
 
 
 

 

 

1:52‘I Know It Feels Like a Lifetime,’ Cuomo Says of Coronavirus Crisis
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said that coronavirus deaths hit a new one-day peak in the state, but that hospitalizations were slowing. credit creditMike Segar/Mike Segar

Mr. Cuomo described the death as a lagging indicator in the fight against the virus: People are often ill with it for a long time before they die, he said. By other measures, he said, the curve of infection was flattening in New York, even as the number of critically ill patients kept rising.

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The number of virus patients in hospitals increased 4 percent since Monday, the fourth straight day that it had grown 7 percent or less after growing at least 20 percent a day for weeks.

The number of patients on ventilators in intensive-care units increased, too, but at the smallest one-day rate in weeks, up 2 percent since Monday.

As of Tuesday, there were nearly 4,600 patients on ventilators in New York, far fewer than pessimistic projections in recent weeks had said there might be. That has helped keep the state from exhausting its supply of ventilators.

In New Jersey, state officials said that about 1,651 people were in what they called “critical care” on Tuesday, up from about 1,500 patients on Monday.

More than 90 percent of the patients in critical care, about 1,540, were on ventilators.

And as in New York, New Jersey officials noted that the numbers of people in critical care and on ventilators were far below their worst-case scenarios.

Mr. Cuomo, whose PowerPoint presentations have become an essential feature of his briefings, displayed a bar chart of hospitalizations that showed them leveling off in recent days, with days soon labeled “projected plateau?”

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For the number of people in hospitals to stop increasing, he said, New Yorkers must continue to vigilantly practice social distancing and other behavior that reduce the virus’s spread.

“To the extent that we see a flattening or a possible plateau, that’s because of what we are doing and we have to keep doing it,” the governor said.

Mr. Murphy said that while it appeared the curve of infection “may finally be flattening,” New Jersey residents needed to continue to stay inside or six feet away from one another.

Here are Tuesday statistics from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut:

New York:

  • Deaths: 5,489, up 731 from early Monday.

  • Confirmed cases: 138,836 statewide, up from 130,689 on Monday. In New York City, there were 76,876 cases, up from 72,181.

  • Hospitalized: 17,493 people statewide, up from 16,837.

  • In intensive care: 4,593, up 89 from 4,504 on Monday.

New Jersey:

  • Deaths: 1,232, up from 1,000 on Monday.

  • Confirmed cases: 44,416, up from 41,255.

  • Hospitalized: 7,017.

  • In critical care: 1,651, up from 1,505 on Monday.

  • On ventilators: 1,540.

Connecticut:

  • Deaths: 277, up from 206 on Monday.

  • Confirmed cases: 7,781, up from 6,906.

  • Hospitalized: 1,308, up from 1,221.

The official death figures, awful as they are, may not reflect the virus’s true toll Around the country, according to experts and officials, virus-related deaths are being undercounted because of inconsistent protocols and limited resources.

In New York City, the leader of the City Council’s health committee, Mark Levine, wrote on Twitter that people were dying at home at about 10 times the normal rate, presumably in large part because of the virus, but that many deaths were not being counted as virus deaths.

According to the news site Gothamist, the city medical examiner’s office has not been testing dead bodies for the virus and has instead referred what it considers “probable” virus deaths to the city’s health department.

But the health department counts only confirmed virus cases in its official death tally, Gothamist reported, suggesting that many virus deaths were being missed.

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Asked on Tuesday about an increase in people dying at home, Mr. de Blasio said, “I’m assuming the vast majority of those deaths are coronavirus related.”

He added: “It’s understandable in a crisis that being able to make the confirmation is harder to do, with all the resources stretched so thin.” City officials, he said, were focusing their resources on “saving the next life.”

Still, he said, “We do want to know the truth about what happened in every death at home.”

 
 

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Cheesequake State Park in Old Bridge, N.J., is among the state parks to be closed by order of the governor.
Credit…Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey on Tuesday ordered all state and county parks and state forests closed after what he said were many reports of people gathering too closely while they were outside.

“We’ve seen far too many instances in our parks where people are gathering and socializing in groups,” Mr. Murphy wrote on Twitter. “We need to #FlattenTheCurve.”

“I do not take this action lightly,” the governor wrote. “Some of my fondest memories with my children are beautiful spring days in parks playing soccer and enjoying our family. But my focus, and my sole mission in life right now, is the health of every New Jersey family.”

Mr. Murphy also said that schools in New Jersey would remain closed indefinitely and that assessment requirements for students set to graduate from eighth and 12th grades would be waived.

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“This will ensure that no student is left behind or unduly penalized due to these extraordinary circumstances,” he said.

Mr. Murphy’s extension of school closings came a day after Mr. Cuomo said schools in New York would remain closed until at least April 29.

The New Jersey’s governor’s order on the state’s parks also went further than Mr. Cuomo has gone, even as New York’s governor on Monday strongly criticized New York City residents who flooded parks over the weekend.

“Now is not the time to be lax,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Now is not the time to be playing Frisbee in the park with your friends.”

Aides to Mr. Cuomo said on Tuesday that there was no imminent plan to follow Mr. Murphy’s lead.

 
 

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Bodies being transferred to refrigerated trailers at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn on Saturday.
Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

In its inexorable spread across New York City, the coronavirus is exacting a greater toll on men than women.

Not only are men infected in greater numbers, new data show, but they are also dying at nearly twice the rate of women.

To date, there have been nearly 43 COVID-19 deaths for every 100,000 men in the city, compared with 23 such deaths for every 100,000 women, according to figures reported by the city’s health department. And men are being hospitalized with severe disease at higher rates.

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The data, while disturbing, do not come entirely as a surprise. Similar trends have been observed in China and Italy, where men were both infected with COVID-19 and succumbed to it at higher rates than women.

Possible explanations for the disparity have ranged from differences in behavior — smoking rates among men exceed those among women in much of the world, for example — to biological differences.

Women have more robust immune systems, some scientists have noted, that provide an edge in fighting off infections — although it also makes them more susceptible to autoimmune disorders.

Physicians working at hospitals throughout the city say the gender disparity is stark and impossible to miss.

“I’m in the emergency room, and it’s remarkable — I’d estimate that 80 percent of the patients being brought in are men,” said Dr. Hani Sbitany, a reconstructive surgeon at Mount Sinai Health Systems who has been treating COVID-19 patients in Brooklyn. “It’s four out of five patients.”

GENDER DIVIDE
 Doctors at hospitals in New York City see a stark disparity in how the virus is affecting men versus how it is affecting women.
 

It had been a constant refrain through the weeks of the outbreak.

Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Bill de Blasio had both repeated daily that the city and state faced a desperate need for ventilators to help virus patients in intensive care keep breathing.

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But on Monday, both said that, for the moment, that need had been met.

Mr. de Blasio said Monday night on NY1 that after receiving another 500 ventilators from the state, “The situation related to the number of I.C.U. beds and ventilators have appeared to change meaningfully.”

He said the city now had enough ventilators to last through the end of the week.

Mr. Cuomo said earlier on Monday that the state had received ventilators from California, Oregon and elsewhere, adding, “We don’t need any additional ventilators right now.”

The pressure is easing in part because the number of virus patients on ventilators in New York, while still increasing, is not increasing as rapidly as it was last week.

 
 

Image

Maria Correa in an undated photo.
Credit…via Julian Escobar

The emergency medical technicians who rushed into Maria Correa’s room in protective gear found a pulse.

They told the family in Queens that they were taking her to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, one of many health care facilities in New York City overwhelmed by the coronavirus outbreak.

But when her family called the hospital the next day to check on her condition, they were told she was not there.

For a week, family members called the fire department, other hospital offices and the emergency medical service that had picked her up, near death, from her home in Woodhaven on the last Monday in March.

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But Ms. Correa, 73, was nowhere to be found.

“I believe she passed away,” said Janeth Solis, a member of Ms. Correa’s family who has led the increasingly frantic search to find her. “But where?”

On Monday, there was a breakthrough. An unidentified woman who had died on March 30 was in the hospital morgue, a hospital worker told her son by phone.

The paramedics, overwhelmed by a high volume of calls, had listed her son’s name, Julian Escobar, on the patient intake form instead of hers. Mr. Escobar identified his mother’s body by a photograph the next day at the hospital.

“I’m glad my mom can now rest in peace,” Mr. Escobar said in a statement released by his stepdaughter.

FRANTIC SEARCH:
Maria Correa was rushed to the hospital with coronavirus symptoms. Then no one could find her.
 

National Nurses United, the largest union of registered nurses in the country, has joined the ranks of health care workers in New York, protesting what it says is inadequate staffing and a lack of protective equipment for its members who work at the Brooklyn V.A. Medical Center.

Nurses United members made their case outside the V.A. hospital late Monday.

Their calls for better conditions amid the fight against the coronavirus came the same day that nurses affiliated with the New York State Nurses Association protested at Harlem Hospital Center in Manhattan over a shortage of protective gear.

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In an interview, Maria Lobifaro, a nurse at the veterans’ hospital who is also a union steward, said there were “unsafe ratios” of nurses to patients on ventilators in the intensive care unit there.

Contacted for comment, the Department of Veterans Affairs, which operates the Brooklyn hospital, said in a statement that all of its employees had the “appropriate” personal protective equipment, or P.P.E., called for by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and that the relevant guidelines for the equipment’s use were being followed.

“Our nursing staff is doing an amazing job under pressure,” the agency said in its statement.

The city hospital system, which runs Harlem Hospital, also praised its nurses’ work in a statement and said that it was doing everything possible to keep them protected.

“Every health care worker in our system who needs P.P.E. can receive what they require,” the agency said.

 
 

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Pastor Bernard Taylor, right, helps pass out food at a food bank at his church, the Open Door Church of God in Christ, in Brooklyn.
Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Mr. de Blasio said on Tuesday that, along with struggling to halt the virus’s spread, New York City was increasingly focused on helping the growing number of people who were unemployed and unsure of where their next meal would come from.

“There’s a new front opening up and we have to be there for people who need food,” the mayor said.

According to a Siena College Research Institute poll published on Monday, 49 percent of city residents worry about putting food on the table.

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A separate survey by the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, published on Tuesday, found that for more than half of New Yorkers, the virus and its effects had hurt their households’ ability to get the food they need.

Around one in five said their ability to procure food had been reduced “a lot.”

Mr. de Blasio said that in the past three weeks, city programs had served 2.6 million meals to New Yorkers who needed food “and that is just the beginning.”

He cited a projection that showed at least 500,000 New Yorkers had either lost their jobs or soon would.

 
 

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The arrival of the Navy hospital ship Comfort in New York was a rare bright moment for a ravaged city.
Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

A crew member aboard the Navy hospital ship Comfort tested positive for the virus, and several others are in isolation, the Navy said on Tuesday. It was the latest setback in the ship’s troubled mission to New York to help in the pandemic response.

News of the infection came after President Trump agreed to requests from officials in New York and New Jersey to allow the Comfort to accept virus patients.

The 1,000-bed ship, which arrived last week to great fanfare, was supposed to relieve pressure on New York’s overburdened hospitals by taking patients with nonvirus ailments. But bureaucratic hurdles combined with a sharp decline in hospitalizations unrelated to the virus resulted in few patients being transferred to the ship.

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A Navy spokeswoman said the discovery of an infected crew member would not affect the Comfort’s mission. “It does not affect the ability of the Comfort to receive patients at all,” Elizabeth Baker, the spokeswoman, said.

As of Tuesday, there were more than 50 patients on board, she said, meaning most of the Comfort’s beds were still unused.

While there are early signs that the virus outbreak may be slowing in New York City, a nearby suburb is facing a surge.

Steve Bellone, the county executive in Suffolk County, on Long Island, said early Tuesday that “the battle is shifting to Long Island.”

“We’re seeing it in the numbers and you can feel the surge happening,” Mr. Bellone said on CNN.

Three weeks ago, Suffolk County, which has more than a million residents, had not reported a single virus-related fatality, Mr. Bellone said. “Yesterday that number soared well past 200,” he said.

Suffolk County, with nearly 1,000 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents, now has a higher rate of infection than New York City, which has 815 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents.

“I’m having conversations I never imagined having in this position,” he said, including with the governor about the capacity of its morgue and the number of body bags the county will need.

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An ambulance in Manhattan on Monday.
Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

The anxiety and isolation resulting from the virus outbreak can feel crippling at times. But for New Yorkers who want to do something constructive, there are ways to help.

The nonprofit EMS FDNY Help Fund provides financial support to the city’s emergency medical technicians and paramedics. Like doctors and nurses, these emergency services workers are on the front lines of the crisis, and they have been responding to constant calls over the past several weeks.

Putting in multiple long shifts for pay that hovers just above the city’s minimum wage, these workers could use a lift, union leaders say.

“Our members working are 16 hours a day, 17 hours a day, and a lot of them are sleeping in their cars afterward because they’re scared of bringing the virus home to their families,” said Vinny Variable, the president of the Uniformed EMS Officers Union and an FDNY lieutenant. “Anybody that can help, we need it.”

Donations to the EMS FDNY Help Fund, which fire officials and multiple unions have endorsed, can be made here.

Besides, fire officials have called for donations to the FDNY Foundation — a nonprofit affiliated with the department that opened a COVID-19 fund earlier this week.

A spokesman for the department said donations will be used “to help FDNY families who have COVID-19 illness, death, or who are impacted in any way.” Donations can be made here.

And on Monday, Mr. Cuomo also announced the creation of what he called the “First Responders Fund,” which is accepting donations here.

  • Here is a guide on other ways New Yorkers can help and instructions on how to donate N95 masks to New York doctors.

Reporting was contributed by Jonah Engel Bromwich, Maria Cramer, Alan Feuer, Michael Gold, Joseph Goldstein, Jeffery C. Mays, Jesse McKinley, Andy Newman, Azi Paybarah, Sharon Otterman, Roni Caryn Rabin, Azi Paybarah, Michael Schwirtz, Matt Stevens, Ali Watkins, and Benjamin Weiser.

 

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