On Sunday, during New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily press briefing regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor said that the Empire State cannot reasonably expect to come out on the other end of this without seeing deaths in the thousands.
According to data from Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) Global Cases map, in New York City alone, which has become a national hotspot for the virus, there have been more than 32,300 confirmed cases, and 678 deaths as of publication.
Prior to speaking about projections related to the death toll, Cuomo noted the astonishing number of health care workers who have volunteered in the state:
In terms of finding staff, that’s going very well. The volunteerism of New Yorkers, God bless them. We’re up to 76,000 health care workers who have volunteered. 76,000 people who volunteered to go into these hospitals at this time. Just think about that.
The governor continued, speaking about how it’s important to observe the trend-lines in case numbers, hospitalizations, intubations, deaths, and recoveries.
“If you look early on, the hospitalization rate was doubling every two days; then it doubled every three days; then it doubled every four days; now it’s doubling every six days,” Cuomo stated. “So, you have almost a dichotomy. The doubling rate is slowing, and that is good news, but the number of cases are still going up … towards an apex, but the rate of the doubling is slowing, which is good news.”
According to slides shown during the briefing, the number of hospitalizations in New York has risen, from 91 in mid-March to 1,175 on Saturday. The numbers can bob up and down (there were 847 hospitalizations on Friday), but the overall trend is upward.
Another slide showing ICU admissions was a little more bumpy. Nevertheless, it showed that aside from a surge on Thursday of 374 ICU admissions, the trend has been slowly ticking up. There were 282 admissions on Saturday, as opposed to 46 on March 17.
The next slide showed that daily intubations were rising as well, but saw a drop-off on Friday and Saturday.
Another important trend-line is those who have been discharged from the hospital. According to the data shown on Cuomo’s slide, there has been a steep upward trajectory in discharged COVID-19 patients, from a low of 78 on March 19 to Saturday’s high of 846.
During a question and answer session following the main remarks, a reporter asked the governor about how social distancing guidelines will impact Easter and Passover, and what advise he would give to religious people during this time.
It’s hard. But on the flip-side, I say, look at what happened in New Rochelle. Those gatherings [that] brought people together were religious gatherings, and brought hundreds of people together, which was beautiful – but it made many, many people ill. And density is the enemy here for this particular time. So, you worship the way you can, but the gatherings are just not a good idea.
One reporter asked about projections related to when New York will hit the apex, to which New York’s Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker said: “There [are] many different projections that we’re working at, and it does see that … already we’re at 965. So, we do see in the thousands, but again, these are models and we have to plan for what the model may show, but hopefully it will be less.”
When pressed again, Cuomo added his opinion, making sure to stress that it was not data, but opinion:
I don’t see how you look at those numbers and conclude anything less than thousands of people will pass away because remember who it’s attacking. It’s attacking the vulnerable, underlying illness, etc, and I don’t see how you get past that curve without seeing thousands of people pass away. I hope it’s wrong…
COVID-19, which originated in China’s Hubei province, has infected nearly 713,000 people worldwide, and led to more than 33,590 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) Global Cases map. 148,995 people have recovered.
According the the New York State website, there have been 59,513 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, and 965 deaths.