New York state, the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, is seeing some leveling out in the number of hospital patients, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday, a hopeful sign even as deaths there and in neighboring New Jersey hit single-day highs.
While the United States experienced its deadliest single day since the crisis began, the U.S. surgeon general said the pandemic may kill fewer Americans than had been projected.
Authorities also provided data showing the pandemic having a disproportionate impact on African Americans.
New York state’s death toll rose by 731 to 5,489 over the past day, Cuomo said, though he called that a “lagging indicator” illustrating past trends. Deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, occur days or weeks after a person becomes infected.
After weeks of bleak developments, Cuomo said the state was “projecting that we are reaching a plateau in the total number of hospitalizations” due to the coronavirus, a possible sign of a leveling out in the spread of the virus.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said his state recorded 232 coronavirus deaths in the past day, bringing its total death toll to 1,232.
“We know we’re not out of the woods yet, we’re not close to that,” Murphy said at a news conference.
New York state overtook Italy, reporting overall coronavirus cases second in the world only to Spain, according to a Reuters tally.
New York has 138,836 reported cases compared with Italy’s 135,586. Spain has the most cases at 140,510. The United States has recorded more than 380,000 cases with a total death toll of about 12,300, up by more than 1,400 in the past day.
The total number of U.S. cases equals roughly the combined number of cases reported in the next three countries combined: Spain, Italy and Germany.
Italy, with a population of about 60 million, and Spain, with 47 million, have higher death rates per capita than the United States, whose population is about 330 million. New York state’s population is close to 20 million, with more than 8 million in New York City.
Public health steps to curb the pandemic have hammered the U.S. economy, with many businesses closing or scaling back while unemployment soars. About 94% of Americans are under stay-at-home orders by state governors. Eight of the 50 states – Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming – have not imposed such orders.
Cuomo said it was time to start planning for the eventual restarting of the economy and spoke with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut about it, but added it was not time to loosen mitigation efforts to enact “social distancing” to curb the spread of the virus.
‘LET’S NOT GET COMPLACENT’
President Donald Trump a day earlier said the economy would be able to reopen “sooner than people think.”
“Let’s not get complacent,” Cuomo told a news conference. “Social distancing is working. … That’s why you see those numbers coming down.”
Murphy added, “Until further notice, we’re not close to changing things.”
The New Jersey governor said he would order all state and county parks closed in New Jersey.
“We have seen far too many instances where people are gathering in groups in our parks erroneously thinking that since they’re outside social distancing doesn’t matter,” Murphy said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose city is the most populous in the United States, said it was too early to declare that a corner had been turned but cited some encouraging developments.
“The number of people showing up in our hospitals who need a ventilator – that situation has improved a bit in recent days,” he said.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told a news briefing that the third most-populous U.S. city has gone from coronavirus cases doubling every one to two days to doubling every nine to 10 days because residents have complied with the state’s stay-at-home order.
“It’s obviously progress,” Lightfoot said. “But we are not near the peak so I don’t want to raise false expectations that it’s coming sometime soon based on the modeling that we have seen.”
Early data from U.S. states shows African Americans are more likely to die from COVID-19, highlighting longstanding disparities in health and inequalities in access to medical care, experts said.
“We know that blacks are more likely to have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease. And I have shared myself, personally, that I have high blood pressure,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who is black, told the CBS program “This Morning.”
The White House coronavirus task force projected a death toll of 100,000 to 240,000 last week. Adams said he agreed with the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that some death total projections may prove too high.
(Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York and Doina Chiacu in Washington. Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Lisa Shumaker, Peter Szekely, Daniel Trotta, Jan Wolfe, Stephanie Kelly, Makini Brice, Brendan O’Brien and Idrees Ali; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Will Dunham; Editing by Howard Goller)