New York’s coronavirus body count is the highest in the nation — and it’s continuing to climb. The tally saw its biggest one-day jump on Wednesday, when 779 virus-related fatalities were recorded, according to The Hill.
At his daily press briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) lamented the grim statistic, stating, “Every number is a face. Every number is a family.”
While the growing death toll is a tragic development indeed, Cuomo pointed out that deaths are “a lagging indicator” of the actual number of people requiring hospital care, one area in which there appears to be growing cause for hope.
Enough beds available
“Right now, we are projecting that we are reaching a plateau in the total number of hospitalizations,” the governor said on Tuesday, adding that there is currently enough hospital space to accommodate the infected.
“We have more than enough beds available,” Cuomo explained, something he attributed to a reduction in the number of people requiring admission to an intensive care unit as well as to the conversion of the Javits Convention Center into a medical facility.
Another key factor in the availability of treatment space was the recent arrival of the USNS Comfort, a massive hospital ship that docked in New York City on March 30. The vessel began accepting COVID-19 patients this week, according to local NBC affiliate WNBC. So far, one crew member on the ship has tested positive for the illness, ABC News reports.
However, Cuomo did admit that medical personnel in the region are overworked and short-handed, partly because some staff members have themselves fallen ill.
Cuomo: Stay the course
The governor has also emphasized the need for continued adherence to preventative measures, reminding New Yorkers that there will be legal consequences for those caught flouting them.
“These social distancing regulations are not just pleas — they’re regulations,” Cuomo stressed, warning scofflaws that they can be fined for failing to adhere to the restrictions.
Moving forward, the governor speculated that new testing protocols may be effective in helping bring the situation under control and eventually get the economy moving again.
“I think we go back with people who have tested that they are negative or people who have tested that they have the antibodies…or we go back with younger people going first,” he said.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, over 14,000 COVID-19 deaths have occurred in the United States, with New York City accounting for 4,571 of them, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.