The Coronavirus Outbreak


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said New York was working with the C.D.C. to investigate a mysterious illness linked to the coronavirus that causes life-threatening inflammation in children.

Cases and deaths in New York State

Includes confirmed and probable cases where available

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said three young children died from a toxic shock-like syndrome related to Covid-19.CreditCredit...Justin Lane/EPA, via Shutterstock

Three young children have died in New York of a mysterious, toxic-shock inflammation syndrome with links to the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Saturday.

“The illness has taken the lives of three young New Yorkers,” Mr. Cuomo said during his daily briefing in Manhattan. “This is new. This is developing.”

As of Saturday, more than 73 children in New York have been sickened by the rare illness, which has some similarities to Kawasaki disease and was publicly identified for the first time earlier this week.

Governor Cuomo said many of these children, some as young as toddlers, did not show respiratory symptoms commonly associated with the coronavirus when they were brought to area hospitals, but all of them tested positive either for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, or for its antibodies.

“So it is still very much a situation that is developing, but it is a serious situation,” he added.

The state will be working with the New York Genome Center and Rockefeller University to determine what is causing the illness, which Governor Cuomo described on Saturday as “truly disturbing.”

When the coronavirus pandemic began ravaging the New York area two months ago, the state found solace in the initial evidence that children would be largely unaffected. That sense of relief was shattered this week when a 5-year-old died in New York City of the newly discovered disease, which doctors described as a “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.” The inflammation of the blood vessels, Mr. Cuomo said, causes “problems with their heart.”

Mr. Cuomo did not elaborate on the deaths of the two additional children.

“We were laboring under the impression that young people were not affected by Covid-19, and that was actually good news,” Mr. Cuomo said. “We still have a lot to learn about this virus.”

Mr. Cuomo has asked parents to be vigilant in looking for symptoms such as prolonged fever, severe abdominal pain, change in skin color, racing heart and chest pain.

Before the announcement of the deaths attributed to the new illness, fewer than four children under age 10 had died of the virus in New York, according to the most recent breakdown from the state. Mr. Cuomo said the state was working with the Centers for Disease Control to determine if the confounding illness had been affecting children infected with the virus before this week.

“It is very possible that this has been going on for several weeks and it hasn’t been diagnosed as related to Covid,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo also announced 226 more deaths due to the coronavirus, 10 more than the number reported a day earlier.

“That number has been infuriatingly constant,” he said. “We would like to see that number dropping at a faster rate that it is currently dropping.”

Despite the setbacks, New York continued to make inroads in its fight against the coronavirus, Mr. Cuomo said.

New hospitalizations for Covid-19 patients remained relatively flat, with 572 new patients being treated at city hospitals for the coronavirus. On Friday, 604 people were hospitalized, and that number hovered in the 600s this week.

The number of new coronavirus cases and the number of people hospitalized with the illness in New Jersey continued to drop, Gov. Philip D. Murphy said Saturday.

Mr. Murphy reported 1,759 new cases, a drop of more than 200 from the day before; that brought the total number of cases in the state to 137,085, as of Friday night, he said. He also announced 166 new deaths in the state.

“Our battle here is not a battle to just bring down numbers,” Mr. Murphy said. “It’s a battle to save lives.”

The picture remained bleak at nursing homes. There have been more than 26,000 cases and 4,825 deaths, Mr. Murphy reported on Saturday, accounting for more than half of the total number of deaths in the state.

On Friday, the state reported the first death of a child under 18 years old, but the governor said there was no evidence that the death of the child was caused by the mysterious syndrome that has killed three children in New York. Mr. Murphy said the child, who was 4, had an underlying condition, but would not offer any more details because of privacy concerns.

Mr. Murphy also announced there would be two “convalescent plasma” collection sites set up in the northern part of the state. Convalescent plasma is the term used for plasma that is removed from the blood of a person who has recovered from a disease, then transfused into a patient still battling it.

An American Red Cross collection site will open in Fairfield and another at University Hospital in Newark on Monday, May 11.

To donate plasma, a person must have recovered from the coronavirus and be symptom free, officials said.

ImageDia:Beacon, an art museum about an hour north of New York City, is preparing measures such as a timed-ticket system to limit the number of people in the building for its eventual re-opening.
Dia:Beacon, an art museum about an hour north of New York City, is preparing measures such as a timed-ticket system to limit the number of people in the building for its eventual re-opening.Credit...Bill Jacobson Studio, via Dia Art Foundation

About an hour’s drive from New York City, the Dia:Beacon art museum has been sitting empty for nearly two months. Mostly empty.

Landscapers have shown up to mulch the garden and a couple of staff members have been fixing worn floorboards, all in preparation for some elusive date when visitors will trickle back into the museum’s bright, airy rooms.

This uncertain future became a bit more conceivable this week when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo outlined his phased plan for reopening during the pandemic. The plan is to allow upstate areas to transition back to normal life before the downstate regions do, but only after they reach certain public health benchmarks.

New York has classified arts institutions in the fourth and final phase of businesses that will be allowed to reopen, after restaurants, hotels and retail stores.

Still, the directors of community theaters, museums and art centers in the Mid-Hudson region and beyond were relieved: As they had hoped, an institution like the Herkimer County Historical Society, which typically hosts about five visitors at a time in the summer, will be able to open up sooner than, say, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

But they realize it will mean working for several weeks to transform their institutions so that visitors will feel safe.

“We’re going to try to create a contact-free experience from the moment a visitor steps onto our property,” said Paul S. D’Ambrosio, the president of the Fenimore Art Museum, a renovated 1930s Georgian Revival mansion in Cooperstown, N.Y., which is among the regions that could open soonest.

To put visitors at ease, Dia plans to institute a timed-ticket system to limit the number of people in the building, and is installing hands-free faucets in the restrooms. Upon the reopening, gallery attendants would be tasked with regulating the number of people in each room.

A community volunteer for City Harvest waits to distribute food at the Melrose Mobile Market site in the Bronx.Credit...Desiree Rios for The New York Times

As New York’s stay-at-home order has all but decimated the city’s economy over the last few weeks, millions of vulnerable residents have turned to charity organizations for shelter, food and other necessities. But a new report suggests the aid many New Yorkers have come to rely on during the pandemic may not be sustainable for very long.

The report warns that many human service nonprofits, like The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York and Good Shepherd Services, may find it difficult to keep their doors open if city and state governments don’t commit to future funding. It cited multiple organizations that had already predicted extra costs or revenue losses exceeding $1 million.

The message from city hall and Albany regarding funding has been ominous. Mr. de Blasio recently announced that the city will need to make more than “$2 billion in very tough budget cuts” to balance a city budget battered by the health crisis. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has publicly stated, “We can’t spend what we don’t have.”

“When all the dust settles, it’s the provider community that’s going to be holding the bill for having fully accommodated all of the decisions both the city and state have made,” Bill Baccaglini, president and CEO of New York Foundling, a child welfare organization, said in the report. “We’re hoping that everybody, at the end of the day, makes us whole.”

The organizations’ inability to hold spring and summer fund-raisers, which bring in millions of dollars a year, is particularly compounding to the problem, according to the report.

An M.T.A. bus provided shelter to homeless people outside the Stillwell Avenue station in Coney Island, Brooklyn, early Saturday morning.Credit...Jonah Markowitz for The New York Times

The M.T.A., which operates the city’s subway and bus system, began shutting down the subway system overnight on Wednesday, forcing those who otherwise would have ridden throughout the night to accept shelter offered by city employees or find their own.

The M.T.A. is providing 40 buses at 30 stations, and the vehicles will be controlled by the Police Department after they are dropped off, the transit agency said.

In a statement announcing the move, transit officials reiterated that the M.T.A. is “not a social services agency” and stressed that the buses were a short-term solution. They called on the city, which requested the buses, to “to step up and take responsibility for providing safe shelter for those individuals experiencing homelessness.”

Empty food vendors outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art this week.Credit...Andrew Seng for The New York Times

To hop on the train, any train, earbuds intact, alone in the crowd on the way somewhere else. To walk out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, exhausted as if from a march. The sweet-potato fries and a beer at Tubby Hook Tavern in Inwood; the coffee-cart guy on West 40th Street who remembers you take it black.

Sunday Mass and the bakery after. Seeing old friends in the synagogue. Play dates. The High Line. Hugs.

The cheap seats in the outfield, the shouting to be heard at happy hour. Meeting cousins with a soccer ball in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The din of the theater as you scan the Playbill before the lights go down.

“I miss my gym equipment,” said Barbara James of Brooklyn.

“The lamb over rice from the food cart by my office, at Seventh and 49th,” said Chris Meredith of East Harlem.

“Just everything,” sighed a police officer sitting behind the wheel of his vehicle in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, last week. “I miss everything.”

The coronavirus outbreak has brought much of life in New York to a halt and there is no clear end in sight. But there are also moments that offer a sliver of strength, hope, humor or some other type of relief: a joke from a stranger on line at the supermarket; a favor from a friend down the block; a great meal ordered from a restaurant we want to survive; trivia night via Zoom with the bar down the street.

We’d like to hear about your moments, the ones that are helping you through these dark times. A reporter or editor may contact you. Your information will not be published without your consent.

Reporting was contributed by Maria Cramer, Michael Gold, Julia Jacobs, Andy Newman, Sarah Maslin Nir, Joel Petterson, Andrea Salcedo, Edgar Sandoval, Matt Stevens and Michael Wilson.

  • Updated April 11, 2020

    • 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.

    • This is a difficult question, because a lot depends on how well the virus is contained. A better question might be: “How will we know when to reopen the country?” In an American Enterprise Institute report, Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson staked out four goal posts for recovery: Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care; the state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms; the state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts; and there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • No. Clinical trials are underway in the United States, China and Europe. But American officials and pharmaceutical executives have said that a vaccine remains at least 12 to 18 months away.

    • 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.