The Coronavirus Outbreak


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday that there had been 562 deaths due to the virus over the previous 24 hours, a higher toll than the state saw in the first 27 days of March.

ImageA screening tent outside of Mount Sinai West on Friday.
A screening tent outside of Mount Sinai West on Friday.Credit...Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

The coronavirus was taking lives at a devastating pace in New York on Friday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said, with deaths nearly doubling in just three days, from 1,550 on Tuesday to 2,935 on Friday.

More people in New York were reported on Friday to have died of the virus in the previous 24 hours — 562 — than in the first 27 days of March.

Officials in New York City reported 305 new deaths due to the virus on Friday evening, bringing the city’s death toll to 1,867 in the biggest single-day jump so far.

“It’s hard to go through this all day, and then it’s hard to stay up all night, watching those numbers come in and the number of deaths tick up,” the governor said at his daily briefing in Albany.

On Friday, for the first time, the state reported more than 10,000 positive tests for the virus in one day: There were 102,863 confirmed cases in New York State, up from 92,381 on Thursday. New York City had 57,159 cases — nearly a quarter of the confirmed cases in the country.

The number of cases in the state has almost doubled since last Friday. The number of people hospitalized and the number of patients on ventilators have both more than doubled since then.

Video
Video player loading
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York urged companies to ramp up production of personal protective equipment like masks.CreditCredit...Peter Foley/EPA, via Shutterstock

With hospitals still in dire need of medical equipment, including ventilators, Mr. Cuomo said he was signing an executive order authorizing the state to seize and redistribute equipment from hospitals and private-sector companies that did not immediately need them.

“I’m not going to let people die because we didn’t redistribute ventilators,” he said.

He said that any equipment commandeered would be returned after the crisis. When a reporter asked whether private hospitals might raise legal objections, Mr. Cuomo answered, “If they want to sue me for borrowing their excess ventilators to save lives, let them sue me.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who reiterated in the afternoon that New York City would need 15,000 more ventilators to manage the pandemic in April and May, expressed his support for the governor’s order.

“This is exactly the kind of thing we need,” Mr. de Blasio said. “In fact, I would urge every state in the union to exercise the same approach.” He added that he had approved the Police Department, Fire Department and Sheriff’s Office to help seize the devices.

But Representative Elise Stefanik, a Republican congresswoman who represents a rural district that borders Vermont, said in a statement that she was “very concerned” about the order.

“I represent demographically the largest number of seniors of any District in New York,” she wrote. “This is the most vulnerable age group facing Covid-19 and needs to be considered.”

She and 11 other state and federal Republican officials later issued a joint statement opposing Mr. Cuomo’s action.

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey announced 4,372 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the state’s total to 29,895. There were 113 new deaths reported, for a total of 646.

Mr. Murphy ordered flags lowered to half-staff across the state “effective immediately and indefinitely to honor those we have lost and those we will lose.”

At a time when people are unable to gather for funerals, Mr. Murphy said, he sought to “find some ways to acknowledge the totality of this loss.”

He cited the deaths of James Brown, the 48-year-old principal of the Grover Cleveland Middle School in Caldwell, and jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, 94, who was born in Paterson, N.J., and died in Saddle River, N.J.

There are 3,016 people hospitalized with the coronavirus in New Jersey, 1,227 of them on ventilators, officials said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio called again on Friday for doctors and other medical workers across the country to be drafted and sent to the places where coronavirus has hit hardest — starting in New York.

“Unless there is a national effort to enlist doctors, nurses, hospital workers of all kinds and get them where they are needed most in the country in time,” Mr. de Blasio said on MSNBC Friday morning. “I don’t see, honestly, how we’re going to have the professionals we need to get through this crisis.”

The mayor later said at a news conference that the city would need 45,000 more medical personnel to fight the pandemic through April and May.

On Friday evening, the city sent a wireless emergency alert — usually used for extreme weather or Amber Alerts — asking medical personnel to volunteer to fight the virus.

“Attention all healthcare workers: New York City is seeking licensed healthcare workers to support healthcare facilities in need,” the message said.

Mr. de Blasio has been asking for days for military medical personnel to be sent to New York but first mentioned seeking a draft of civilian doctors on Thursday night.

When Gallaghers Steakhouse closed indefinitely in mid-March, the restaurant donated most of its perishable food to New Yorkers in need. But dry-aged steaks in the 93-year-old establishment’s meat locker stayed put, day in and day out.

“We had the meat, and we wanted to give it to somebody,” said Dean J. Poll, the restaurant’s owner. “We didn’t know what we were going to do.”

Those steaks could age, but they couldn’t age indefinitely. So Mr. Poll and his executive chef, Alan Ashkinaze, decided to give the meat to firefighters and police officers as a way to say thank you.

On Friday morning, firefighters from around the city came to the restaurant, graciously accepting cuts of meat that Mr. Ashkinaze had prepared and wrapped himself. In the afternoon, members of the New York Police Department arrived to pick up their own order.

“What are we going to do? Just let it sit there?” Mr. Ashkinaze said. “Let’s take care of the people who are trying to take care of us.”

All in all, Gallaghers planned to donate 4,000 to 5,000 pounds of meat by day’s end, Mr. Ashkinaze said. That’s about $50,000 worth of meat, Mr. Poll said, leaving about $300,000 worth in the locker.

The two Navy hospital ships deployed to aid cities hit hard by the pandemic, the Comfort and the Mercy, could end up accepting patients who test positive for the coronavirus, Defense Department officials said Friday — a turnaround from the previous policy that sought to keep the ships virus-free.

General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday that the Defense Department was reassessing whether to allow coronavirus patients aboard the ships. They had originally been intended to treat patients who did not have the virus in order to free up space in onshore hospitals.

“The secretary of defense is making a risk assessment to determine whether or not we should take on” patients who have tested positive, General Milley told Fox News.

His comments came after New York hospital executives complained Thursday that the Comfort was sitting in New York Harbor largely empty while hospitals in the city were overrun.

By late Thursday, only 20 patients had been transferred to the Comfort, even as New York hospitals struggled to find space for thousands infected with the coronavirus.

Earlier Friday, the Navy announced it would streamline the admission process for patients at the Comfort. Going forward, patients will be evaluated at the Comfort’s dock rather than at city hospitals, and they will no longer have to test negative for the coronavirus before being admitted.

Defense Department officials say a decision on accepting patients who had tested positive for the coronavirus could come in the next few days.

The county executive of Rockland County, N.Y., called on Mr. Cuomo on Thursday to establish a containment zone around part of a town that has seen a rampant spread of the virus.

The executive, Ed Day, was seeking the designation for part of Ramapo, Mr. Day confirmed to The New York Times on Friday. The Journal News first reported Mr. Day’s request.

Rockland County, northwest of New York City, has seen a higher concentration of virus cases than any place in the state besides neighboring Westchester County. It has reported more than 4,200 coronavirus cases, or about 1 per 75 residents — far higher than the rate in New York City. As of late Friday afternoon, 69 people there had died.

In an interview, Mr. Day said that he would defer to the state on what specific rules would be put in place in the “containment zone.” But he bemoaned the lack of social distancing he said he continued to see in the community and said he would like elected officials and community leaders to have the power to prevent large gatherings.

“We need to do something to get people’s attention,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo had previously created a “containment area” in the small city of New Rochelle before statewide stay-home orders were put in place, which Mr. Day said had worked in stopping the spread of the virus.

Mr. Day said Mr. Cuomo had not yet responded to his request but that the governor’s staff members had rejected the idea “out of hand” when his team raised it a few days ago.

The area where Mr. Day seeks restrictions includes the ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclaves of Monsey, where a funeral this week drew a large crowd, and Kaser. One Jewish leader told The Journal News the proposed zone targeted the Jewish community.

Mr. Day rejected the criticism as “either ignorant or political,” and said his decision had been driven solely by data.

“The greatest act of anti-Semitism I could create right now,” he said, “would be to do nothing and let people die.”

As of Thursday, four more people living in city shelters and one man who lived on the street had died of the coronavirus, bringing the number of deaths of homeless people in the city to 10.

Until Thursday, the deaths had been concentrated among older men living in dormitory-style shelters for single adults. But two of the most recently reported deaths were people who had been living in shelters for families.

The rate of deaths and infection among homeless people has been relatively low. But social distancing in group shelters has presented a challenge. The city is paying for about 500 private hotel rooms in an effort to isolate people who have symptoms of the virus, have been exposed to others who tested positive, or have tested positive themselves.

As of Thursday, 168 total people from shelters, from the street and from unstable housing situations had tested positive.

Steven Banks, the city’s commissioner of social services, said on Friday that his agency would rent more hotel rooms as needed.

Advocates for homeless and low-income people are asking that the city open more hotel rooms so that people can better isolate. “Every homeless New Yorker in a congregate setting or those living on the street should be afforded the same opportunity to self-distance,” said Paulette Soltani, political director of VOCAL-NY, an advocacy organization, who called for 30,000 more hotel rooms to be made available.

New Jersey received 1,650 ventilators from the federal government, but some were not working, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

“Not all of them are in functioning condition,” Mr. Murphy said on NPR this morning. “At least 15 of them.” The governor did not provide elaborate on the how the machines — which can assist breathing in patients with compromised pulmonary functions — were inadequate.

Though 15 would represent only about one percent of the number the state received, each ventilator is expected to be necessary in the effort to save lives. And New Jersey is the second state to have trouble with ventilators it has received from the federal government.

On Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said that 170 ventilators that had been sent to his state by the federal government were not working, and had been rerouted to a Silicon Valley company to fix.

New Jersey had reported 539 deaths from the virus as of Thursday evening, the second most in the nation after New York’s 2,653.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was asked on Thursday if New York had seen similar problems and said he had not heard of any.

Medical researchers are calling on New Yorkers to share information about their health in a new app aimed at track the spread of the coronavirus, identify clusters of cases and better allocate limited resources.

The web-based app, STOP COVID NYC, from Mount Sinai Health System, asks New York City residents to complete a survey about their risk factors and symptoms and then delivers daily texts asking for updates on their health with questions like: “Do you have a fever?”

Researchers said that in addition to helping track the virus in New York, the data collected by the app could help them understand how to assist the rest of the country as the virus spreads in coming months.

“We need our whole city to help, not just those in hospitals or with access to health care,” said Dr. Laura Huckins, a leader of the project. “Everyone is included.”

Indeed, officials stressed that even healthy New Yorkers with no symptoms should procure the app by texting “COVID” to 64722.

More than 800,000 residents the New York region, including New Jersey and Connecticut, have applied for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks as the coronavirus pandemic has brought the economy to a virtual standstill.

If you are an employer or a worker who is unemployed, go here to share your story. A reporter or editor may contact you. Your information will not be published without your consent.

Reporting was contributed by Jonah Engel Bromwich, Helene Cooper, Maria Cramer, Michael Gold, Matthew Haag, Jesse McKinley, Andy Newman, Amelia Nierenberg, Azi Paybarah, Matt Stevens, and Nikita Stewart.

  • Updated April 4, 2020

    • The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.

    • Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.

    • If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.

    • Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

    • That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.