Coronavirus deaths jump in New York, but governor says hospitalizations are plateauing and distancing ‘is working’

Coronavirus

In this March 24, 2020 photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference against a backdrop of medical supplies at the Jacob Javits Center that will house a temporary hospital in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in New York. Amid an unprecedented public health crisis, the nation’s governors are trying to get what they need from the federal government – and fast. But often that means navigating the disorienting politics of dealing with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The governor of the state with the largest coronavirus outbreak said Tuesday that hospitalizations may be leveling off and social distancing “is working” — and people need to keep doing it.

“Right now, we are projecting we are reaching a plateau in the number of hospitalizations,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters.

“We have to stay disciplined. We have to be smart. We have to be safe. … We do that by staying at home.”

Cuomo’s comments come as the US coronavirus death toll exceeds 12,000, and as health officials say parts of the country that leaned in heavily to social distancing measures may be seeing a slowdown in the growth of coronavirus cases.

Cuomo offered mixed news: New York on Monday had its largest one-day increase in deaths for the state. But he said this was a lagging indicator, because often those who have died were hospitalized the longest.

And the state’s three-day average for Covid-19 hospitalizations, and the daily intensive-care admissions, are down, he said.

New York has reported more than 138,800 positive cases — a large chunk of the more than 386,000 coronavirus cases in the US, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

“I know (social distancing) feels like a lifetime,” Cuomo said, but “it is working.”

“That’s why you see those numbers coming down. If we had the same rate of interaction (from before stay-at-home orders) those rates would be going up.”

In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh warned cases in his city were just starting to spike — 33% of the city’s 2,035 cases were diagnosed in the last three days, he told CNN on Tuesday.

“This is not the time to lax on any rules, as far as stay at home orders,” Walsh said. “We’re in this for the long haul.”

The majority of people in the US are “doing the right thing” by staying home and following other mitigation measures to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“I’m seeing mitigation work,” Adams said. “I know I’ve said it a couple times with Washington and with California. Their public health officials there should be applauded because they’ve given us the blueprint for how we deal with this and the rest of the country.”

Recent developments
• The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told an Arizona radio station that more people are engaging in social distancing and that means the final death toll from the virus could be much lower than had been modeled.

• Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo told residents to keep a log of the people they have had contact with in recent days. “The discussion we are having now is that we are not going to let folks get testing unless they show up with a contact notebook. I am not announcing that today, I want you to know how serious this is,” she said.

• New Jersey, the state with the second most reported cases (more than 41,000), will close all state parks and forests and county parks to “further social distancing,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

• Major League Baseball says it is trying to work through plans to get back to playing, including possibly having games at a central location, once the coronavirus pandemic has improved.

• Wisconsin is holding its primary election Tuesday despite the pandemic. The US Supreme Court allowed the vote, but a dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the decision “boggles the mind.”

• Adams, the surgeon general, told NBC’s “Today” show that Wisconsin voters should maintain distances of 6 feet from others and wear face coverings as they go to the polls.

• White House trade adviser Peter Navarro warned the White House in January of a “full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans” from the coronavirus, The New York Times reports.

• Michigan’s largest health care system, Beaumont Health, has about 1,500 of its more than 38,000 employees staying home with symptoms consistent with Covid-19, spokesman Mark Geary said.

• Another large Michigan health care system, Henry Ford Health System, says 734 staff members — or 2.1% of its workforce — has tested positive for Covid-19 since it started tracking their status on March 12.

Your coronavirus questions, answered

States helping each other with supplies
To help states like hard-hit New York, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said many of the 500 ventilators his state was sending east would arrive as early as Tuesday night.

“One hundred going to New York, one hundred going to New Jersey, one hundred going to Illinois,” Newsom told reporters.

Track coronavirus cases in the US

Newsom says the 500 ventilators are being loaned after the state was able to refurbish and purchase sufficient equipment for itss own needs.

Newsom isn’t alone — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee have also offered ventilators to support other states.

“These ventilators are going to New York and other states hardest hit by this virus,” Inslee said in a statement Sunday. The governor released 400 ventilators to the national stockpile.

Virus hits African American communities
As states employ more tests to identify carriers of the virus, data has begun to show African Americans make up a large number of victims in the country.

In Chicago, 72% of the people who have died from coronavirus are black, though they make up 30% of the population, officials said.

In Louisiana, where nearly 33% of the population is African American, those residents account for 70% of the state’s coronavirus deaths.

Dr. Celine Gounder, a CNN medical analyst and clinical assistant professor of infectious diseases, on Tuesday offered possible reasons for this, including:

• African Americans may be disproportionately likely to work in essential jobs that can’t be done at home, such as grocery jobs.

• African Americans are disproportionately likely to have underlying health conditions that would make someone more likely to have severe Covid-19 illnesses.

Adams, the surgeon general, made similar arguments to “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday.

“When you look at being black in America, No. 1, people unfortunately are more likely to be of low socioeconomic status, which makes it harder to social distance. No. 2, we know that blacks are more likely to have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease,” Adams told CBS.

“I and many black Americans are at higher risk for Covid. It’s why we need everyone to do their part to slow the spread.”

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