New York state, leading the nation in coronavirus infections and deaths, is showing tentative signs of curbing the spread of the disease, the governor said on Wednesday, even as fatalities in New York City jumped while the health crisis deepened in hard-hit New Orleans and elsewhere, Reuters writes.
The rate of hospitalizations in New York has slowed in recent days, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, with numbers he called “almost too good to be true.” He also hailed the enlistment of 40,000 retired nurses, physicians and other medical professionals signing up for a “surge health care force,” but warned much remains to be done.
In an ominous sign he and other governors are preparing for the worst, the states of New York, North Carolina and Hawaii requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency send special mortuary teams that can be deployed for mass casualties, FEMA said on Wednesday.
New Orleans, where large crowds celebrated Mardi Gras a month ago, was on track to become the next U.S. epicenter, as Louisiana’s Gulf Coast metropolis recorded the world’s highest growth rate in coronavirus cases, Reuters writes.
Cuomo announced new steps aimed at containing the virus. New York City – home to over 8 million people – closed some of its largely empty streets to vehicle traffic to allow more room for pedestrians to walk with greater “social distancing.”
At a news conference, Cuomo said the city also would ban basketball and other contact sports in public parks, while lamenting the challenges posed by dense populations. “Our closeness makes us vulnerable,” he said.
Nationwide, nearly 68,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the highly contagious virus, as the U.S. death toll approached 1,000.
Only two other nations – China and Italy – have more cases of the virus, which is particularly perilous to elderly people and those with underlying chronic health conditions.
At least 30,800 people have tested positive for the virus in New York state and more than 17,800 in New York City alone. By Wednesday night, the number of coronavirus fatalities had climbed to 280, up 81 from the number reported hours earlier when the statewide death toll stood at 285.