News and Commentary

New York: While COVID-19 Single-Day Deaths Break Record, Hospitalizations Continue To Drop
Medical staff push a patient on a gurney to a waiting medical helicopter at the Emile Muller hospital in Mulhouse, eastern France, to be evacuated on another hospital on March 17, 2020, amid the outbreak of the new Coronavirus, COVID-19.

On Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held his daily COVID-19 press briefing. Despite a record day of deaths in the state, there was also promising news pertaining to the rate of hospitalizations and the overall flattening of the curve.

The hospitalization rate for Tuesday dropped down from the day before. At peak on April 2, there were 1,427 single-day hospitalizations in the state, while on Tuesday, there were just 586 single-day hospitalizations. Although the numbers bob up and down, the overall trajectory appears to be moving downward.

Cuomo noted that the “three day average trend” of hospitalizations is also “down.”

“Anecdotally, individual hospitals, the larger systems are reporting that some of them are actually releasing more people than are coming in,” the governor stated. “So they’re net down.”

Cuomo also touted the hospital capacity increase, as well as the mobility of supplies as efforts that have helped the situation.

The governor then spoke about potential hospital stabilization, but warned that such news shouldn’t lead to complacency:

If the hospitalization rate keeps decreasing the way it is now, then the system should stabilize over these next couple of weeks, which will minimize the need for overflow on the system that we have built in at Javits and at the USNS Comfort. So, that is all good news.

There’s a big caution sign. That’s if we continue doing what we’re doing … we are flattening the curve because we are rigorous about social distancing, et cetera. If we continue doing what we’re doing, then we believe the curve will continue to flatten – but it’s not a time to get complacent, it’s not a time to do anything different than we have been doing. Remember what happened in Italy when the entire health care system became overrun, so we have to remain diligent, we have to remain disciplined going forward. There’s no doubt that we are now bending the curve, and there’s no doubt that we can’t stop doing what we’re doing.

Cuomo then spoke about single-day deaths over the last week, which have been largely on the rise, leading to a record on Tuesday of 779.

  • April 2: 562


  • April 3: 630


  • April 4: 594


  • April 5: 599


  • April 6: 731


  • April 7: 779

The governor proceeded to explain why single-day deaths have increased even while hospitalizations are down (emphasis added):

The number of deaths will continue to rise as those hospitalized for a longer period of time pass away. The longer you are on a ventilator, the less likely you will come off the ventilator. Dr. Fauci spoke to me about this, and he was 100% right. The “lagging indicator” between the hospitalizations and deaths. The hospitalizations can start to drop, the deaths will actually increase because the people who have been in the hospital for 11 days, 14 days, 17 days, pass away. That’s what we’re seeing. Hospitalizations drop, and the death toll rises.

I understand the science of it, I understand the facts and the logic of it, but it is still incredibly difficult to deal with.

Governor Cuomo then implored the people of New York to continue to do their part in keeping the vulnerable safe:

This virus attacked the vulnerable and attacked the weak, and it’s our job as a society to protect those vulnerable – and that’s what this has always been about from day one, and it still is about.

Be responsible, not just for yourself, but to protect the vulnerable. Be responsible because the life you risk may not be your own. Those people who walk into an emergency room every day and put themselves at peril, don’t make their situation worse. Don’t infect yourself or infect someone else so their situation becomes more dangerous.

The governor moved on to speak about one of the most persistent questions surrounding this pandemic, which is when things will get back to “normal.” He stated that he doesn’t believe it’s “about going back,” but about “going forward” toward a “new normal” based on the knowledge that has been acquired during this time of crisis.

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) model recently revised the anticipated death toll for the United States down to approximately 60,000 by August 4. As for New York, the projection has been lowered to about 13,300 deaths, down from a previous estimate of about 16,000.

COVID-19, which originated in China’s Hubei province, has infected over 1.5 million people worldwide, and led to more than 87,700 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) Global Cases map. 318,068 people have recovered.

In the United States, there have been more than 423,100 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and over 14,300 deaths. As of publication, 23,127 individuals have recovered from the virus.

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