New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, now alone has over 100,000 novel coronavirus cases, more than the confirmed cases in China and the UK, according to the latest official data.
Statistics from the New York City government show an increase of at least 5,695 cases on Sunday (April 12) to put the city’s total number of coronavirus infections at over 104,410 with 27,676 hospitalisations and 6,898 deaths.
According to estimates by Johns Hopkins University, there are 85,208 coronavirus cases in the UK, 83,135 in China and 71,686 in Iran.
The US has 557,300 cases and over 22,000 people have died so far. Globally the number of COVID19 cases is over 1.8 million and 114,185 people have died from the disease.
More than 189,000 cases have been reported in New York state, the hardest-hit state in the US, and the death toll now stands at 9385.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters on Sunday that the past week was a “very, very tough” one in the city’s hospitals.
“And we have never, ever underestimated this enemy we’re fighting. Coronavirus is ferocious and has presented us with challenges that we have never ever seen before. And that certainly our nation has not seen anything like in a century,” he said, adding that “while it was a tough and painful week for New York City, it was not as worse as had been initially expected.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said 758 more people died in the state from coronavirus in a 24-hour period, describing it as “terrible news” even as the infection rate continues to slow and stressed he will work with New Jersey and Connecticut on a coordinated plan to reopen the economy that also safeguards public health.
The state is witnessing mixed results as change in total number of hospitalisations is down but the ICU admissions and intubations ticked up.
“You’re not seeing a great decline in the numbers, but you’re seeing a flattening. And you’re also seeing a recurrence of the terrible news, which is the number of lives lost, which is 758 on April 11,” he said.
“The big question on everyone’s mind is when will the economy reopen. People want to get on with their lives, people want to get out of the house. They have cabin fever. We need the economy working, people need a paycheck. Life has to function,” he said at his daily briefing Sunday.
The Governor stressed that he wants to reopen the state and the economy as soon as possible.
“Let’s just end this nightmare right. It’s like Groundhog Day. You get up every day, it’s the same routine, you almost lose track of what day of the week it is because they don’t even have meaning anymore,” he said, making a reference to the movie.
Cuomo underscored that the caveat in re-opening the economy is that one has to be smart in the way they reopen and there is a need for a coordinated, regional and safe approach.
“Nobody wants to pick between a public health strategy and an economic strategy. And as governor of the state, I’m not going to pick one over the other, we need a public health strategy that is safe, consistent with an economic strategy.” he said.
He emphasised that the last thing New York needs is an uptick in the infection rate and hospitalization numbers that the state has worked so hard to bring down. “So we need a strategy that coordinates business and schools and transportation and workforce.”
Reopening the state and moving people back in the workforce would require more and faster testing as well as federal help.
He said he will be coordinating with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont later today on coming up with a reopening plan that is a public health plan, safeguards public health but also starts to move us towards economic activation.
He said the state will also pass an executive order which directs employers to provide essential workers with a cloth or surgical face mask free of cost to their employees when they are interacting with the public.
The Governor and de Blasio also continued to disagree over when to open public schools across the state.
“We’re not going to open any schools until it is safe from a public health point of view. We won’t open schools one minute sooner than they should be opened but we wont open schools one minute later than they should be opened either. Am I, as I sit here, prepared to say what we’ll be doing in June? No. I do not know what we will be doing in June. Nobody knows what we will be doing in June,” he added.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an order on Sunday, extending the disaster declaration for all Texas counties in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Texas officials said on Sunday about 13,500 state residents have tested positive for the COVID-19, and 271 died.
Harris County has the most confirmed cases with more than 3,500 positive tests, followed by Dallas County with over 1,600, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“By extending disaster declaration, we are ensuring the state of Texas continues to have adequate resources and capabilities to support our communities and protect public health, Abbott said.
“I urge all Texans to continue practicing social distancing and abide by the guidelines laid out by the CDC and my executive orders to slow the spread of COVID-19,” he added.
(With inputs from agencies)