New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested the state is beginning to reach its apex of coronavirus cases, though he cautioned that numbers are changing daily.
Announcing 599 deaths in the last 24 hours, Cuomo called the fatality number “effectively flat for two days,” which he said hints at a possible flattening of New York’s curve, along with fewer hospital and ICU admissions. Early projections showed the state would need 55,000 to 110,000 hospital beds, and the governor noted that the state is tracking at a rate lower than the initial modeling suggested.
“If we are plateauing, it’s because social distancing is working,” he said, however, he also stated that numbers could still continue to rise.
“The big question that we’re looking at now is: what is the curve?” he asked rhetorically, before saying that the curve could either be a short peak or a longer plateau, which would still overburden an already strained system.
Cuomo said the state will continue moving ventilators to New York City's public hospital system and that the state will continue its “surge and flex” program to shift gear and equipment to hospitals most pressed at any given time.
“This is a hospital system where we have our foot to the floor, and the engine is at redline and you can’t go any faster,” he described. “Staying at this level is problematic.”
The governor also announced an extension of NY Pause, extending restrictions on schools and nonessential businesses to April 29 and that he planned to ask President Trump to designate the USNS Comfort, currently being underutilized due to what Cuomo said was lower-than-expected non-COVID hospitalizations, a treatment center for coronavirus patients.
When asked about the availability of ventilators, Cuomo said “all of them” are being used. “We’re beyond capacity.”
“We are into the Plan B, C, D that we outlined,” he said. But, “we don't need any ventilators right now,” he said on his way out of the press conference. Despite hospitals using BIPAP machines and splitting ventilators, the New York governor expressed that he does not believe anyone has lost their life due to a lack of equipment or staffing. “The people we lost are the people we couldn’t save.”
He also displayed photos from New York City parks in an effort to chastise people for not staying inside, calling it “wholly unacceptable,” and announced an increase in the maximum fine for breaking social distancing rules to $1,000.
“What right do you have to act irresponsibly in a way that could get you sick, or someone else sick, and then I have to send an ambulance to pick you up and bring you to an emergency room that’s already overburdened?” Cuomo asked.
Regarding drug trials of hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax, Cuomo claimed that they have had some positive results but that those results were anecdotal and not yet conclusive.