New York infection rate, governor issues dire warning (Reports).
New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has issued his most dire statement yet about the coronavirus pandemic, warning that coronavirus infection rates are rising much faster than expected and the state’s hospitals are woefully unequipped for the deluge.
“The inescapable conclusion is that the rate of infection is going up,” Cuomo said at a press conference on Tuesday morning. “It is spiking. The apex is higher than we thought, and the apex is sooner than we thought. That is a bad combination of facts.”
In New York state, 25,665 cases of coronavirus were confirmed as of Tuesday morning, with 210 deaths – far higher numbers than elsewhere in the US – as 14,776 cases and 131 fatalities were concentrated in New York City alone. New York is conducting more testing per capita than countries such as South Korea, which may partially explain the spike in numbers.
The Democratic governor also attacked the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis, saying federal authorities had offered his state just 400 ventilators when an estimated 30,000 additional machines will be needed.
“We need to be smarter about this … we need the federal help and we need it now,” he said, calling on Donald Trump to utilise the Defense Production Act (DPA) to force companies to produce medical equipment and provide them the necessary financial support to do so. So far, the administration has relied on volunteer efforts that Cuomo said were not appropriate for the urgency of crisis.
He also rejected the suggestion, floated by the president in recent days, that advice from public health officials could be rowed back in a matter of weeks to protect the US economy, saying that sensible steps in both areas could be made now without increasing risk to more vulnerable people in society.
“My mother is not expendable,” Cuomo said. “We will not put a dollar figure on human life.”
Speaking later in the day, the vice-president, Mike Pence, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) had sent New York 2,000 ventilators and plans to send 2,000 more on Wednesday. Trump said he wanted restrictions to be lifted by Easter Sunday on 12 April, and to see churches “packed” with people.
At the daily White House briefing, coronavirus coordinator Dr Deborah Birx said New York was the country’s hardest hit area, and advised people who have travelled from New York City to other parts of the country in recent days to self-quarantine for 14 days to try to contain the spread of the virus.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio directly contradicted Trump during his press conference Tuesday, saying it was “inconceivable” that the city would return to normal by April. De Blasio predicted that, in terms of the pandemic, April will be worse than March, and May may even be worse than April.