Coronavirus Deaths in New York Increase Slightly, Cuomo Says

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Death Rate in N.Y. Remains ‘Obnoxiously’ and ‘Terrifyingly’ High, Cuomo Says

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the death rate saw a slight uptick, even as coronavirus hospitalizations continued to decline in New York.

The number that I watch every day, which is the worst, is the number of deaths. That number has remained obnoxiously and terrifyingly high. And it’s still not dropping at the rate, we would like to see it drop. It even went up a little bit, 299; 289 the day before. But again, use the data, use information to determine actions. Not emotions, not politics, not what people think or feel, but what we know in terms of facts. We’ve been sampling all across the state to determine the infection rate. And when we started on the 22nd we had 2,900 people surveyed at that time, we had about a 13.9 percent, just about 14 percent, infection rate statewide. It then went up to about 14.9, and today it is down to 12.3. In New York City, you see the number went from 21 to 24, and it’s down to 19.9. We’re still getting about 900 new infections every day walking into the hospital. That is still an unacceptably high rate. We’re trying to understand exactly why that is. Who are those 900? Where is it coming from? What can we do to now refine our strategies, to find out where those new cases are being generated. And then get to those areas, get to those places get to those people, to try to target our attack.

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the death rate saw a slight uptick, even as coronavirus hospitalizations continued to decline in New York.CreditCredit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo arrived on Saturday to the New York City Transit’s Corona Maintenance Facility in Queens to deliver a sliver of bad news in the fight against the coronavirus: The state’s daily death toll went up slightly after a consistent decline in the past few days.

“That number has remained obnoxiously and terrifyingly high,” Mr. Cuomo said.

The governor on Saturday reported 299 deaths, 10 more than the previous day. About 276 of those died in hospitals and 23 in nursing homes, the majority of them in New York City, he said.

As part of its efforts to more closely control the virus, the state has conducted more than 15,000 antibody tests so far, the largest sample in the nation, the governor said. Of those tested in New York, 12.3 percent were positive for antibodies, which are seen as evidence that a person had been infected with the coronavirus.

Other antibody test findings include:

  • About 13.1 percent of men and 11.5 percent of women tested positive for antibodies.

  • In New York City, 20 percent of antibody tests were positive. The Bronx had the highest rate of positive tests by far, at 27.6 percent. Brooklyn and Staten Island were in a virtual tie at 19.2 percent, followed by Queens, at 18.4 percent, and Manhattan, at 17.3 percent.

  • Hispanic people tested positive at a higher rate than any other ethnic group, 25.4 percent, followed by blacks 17.4 percent. People declaring more than one racial heritage tested positive at 14.4 percent, Asians at 11.1 percent and whites at 7 percent.

The number of new hospitalizations, the most consistent method to measure the rate of infection in New York, decreased to 831 after hovering in the 900s in the last week.

“We are trying to understand why that is,” he said. “Who are those 900?”

As of Saturday, 10,350 people remained hospitalized, a low from the 18,825 admitted during the peak of the outbreak, in early April.

Mr. Cuomo sat next to Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials at the maintenance facility and reiterated his plan to rid the nation’s largest transportation system of the highly contagious virus.

“You do not help the homeless by letting them stay in the subway car and letting them sleep in a subway car in the middle of the pandemic when they can expose themselves and others,” Mr. Cuomo said. “We owe them more and we owe them better.”

Gov. Philip D. Murphy said the number of new cases was rising in New Jersey, but stressed that the uptick was in part a result of increased testing in the state.

“We have gone from zero capability to test to having among the most robust testing of any state in America,” he said on Saturday.

Mr. Murphy reported 2,912 new cases, bringing the state’s total to 123,717 — still well below the peak reported on April 16, when the state reported 4,391 new cases.

The number of hospitalizations in the northern part of the state was down 41 percent from April 14, when there were 8,185 people hospitalized statewide, said Judith Persichilli, commissioner of the state’s Department of Health.

As of Friday night, 5,713 people were hospitalized across the state because of the virus.

The decreases came as state officials began to relax some of the restrictions that had been in place for weeks. Parks and golf courses were reopened on Saturday morning, and Mr. Murphy said that early anecdotal reports from state police and parks officials indicated people were maintaining social distance.

“If we hear minimal reports of knucklehead behavior at our parks and we see that the metrics we need to meet are being met over the next couple of days, then we know that you have all taken to heart your responsibility,” he said.

The number of new deaths fell to 205 on Saturday, down from a high of 460 on Thursday.

“This has been a tough week as it relates to fatalities we’ve had,” Mr. Murphy said. The death toll is now at 7,742.

ImagePeople took advantage of a closed stretch of Prospect Park West in Brooklyn. Seven miles of streets inside and near city parks were closed to vehicle traffic on Saturday.
Credit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

With a wave of balmy weather arriving in New York City this weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio pleaded with residents to resist the impulse to gather outdoors and warned of the dangers still presented by the coronavirus.

Still, residents who had been cooped up inside — especially with several days of rain this week — flocked to parks in New York and New Jersey. In Central Park’s Sheep Meadow, clusters of people were spread out across the grassy expanse.

The New York Police Department also said it would deploy more than 1,000 officers across the city over the weekend to ensure that people were properly social distancing.

As of Saturday afternoon, most New Yorkers had been abiding by social distancing restrictions, making enforcement by police virtually unnecessary, Mayor de Blasio said during an appearance on CNN.

“The vast majority of people got the message,” Mr. de Blasio said. “People have heard that we need them to stay home, overwhelmingly they have. Even with good weather, they’ve gone out for a while and they came back home.”

Joe Corcoran, 35, who works at a private equity fund and said he runs in Central Park five times a week, acknowledged that the park was packed with people but said he noticed runners were making an effort to maintain social distancing.

“I think people are trying to do their best to stay physically healthy but also respect people’s boundaries,” he said.

City workers at Central Park said they had distributed 2,000 masks in about 45 minutes, part of an effort to distribute millions of masks throughout the city over the next several days.

At Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., Chris Woodard was first in the line waiting for two N.J. State Park officers to open the gate at 6 a.m.

“Just getting some air and space is good.” said Mr. Woodard, 46, who brought his daughter, Mia, from their small apartment in The Heights section of Jersey City. “I missed it. It was a bummer when this closed.”

Just after 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a transit worker got on a No. 2 train at the last stop in the Bronx and leaned in close to a man slumped in a seat. He was wearing a large hooded jacket and had a dark scarf wrapped around his mouth.

“Wake up!” the woman shouted.

The man didn’t flinch. It took another worker rapping the railing with a metal tool to get him to stand up.

The man, who gave his name only as Victor C., said in an interview on the platform that staying on the train was a point of pride: “People not wanting to burden their family, not wanting to count on the government.”

Generations of homeless people have used New York City’s subway as protection against the elements and a place to unsoundly sleep.

But with little access to showers or medical care, they have become a health hazard during the coronavirus pandemic. And with ridership down 92 percent, images of them splayed across otherwise empty cars have become searing symbols of the city’s precarious condition.

So on Thursday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and transit officials reached a consensus: Putting the city on track to eventual reopening, and restoring public confidence in public transportation, required an extraordinary step.

New Yorkers starved for the atmosphere of their favorite local bar now have a substitute of sorts: an online gathering spot called Virtual Cheers that opened last week.

Users can download the background of their chosen bar — over 50 have now registered with Virtual Cheers, including Dante in Greenwich Village and Death & Co in the East Village — and invite friends to join them.

The backgrounds also contain links to GoFundMe pages, so people can donate money to employee relief funds during their virtual gatherings. Suggested donations are listed as “rounds.”

At Teddy’s Bar and Grill in Williamsburg, it’s suggested to spend $24 for two virtual martinis. At Sweet Polly in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, $12 will get you a virtual Fro-Quito, a frozen drink with coconut, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Supplying actual drinks is up to the user.

Virtual Cheers was created by an ad agency based in Williamsburg, RXM Creative, that had been hosting weekly happy hours on Zoom where they used photos of local bars as their background.

“We love these bars and miss the atmosphere, and this is the closest thing to having them back,” said Mihai Botarel, the agency’s co-founder.

In an effort to ease the pressure on overwhelmed crematories downstate, the New York State Cemetery Board on Saturday approved new emergency regulations that allow funeral directors to more easily transfer bodies awaiting cremation in the city to upstate crematories with more availability.

The surge in coronavirus deathshas caused a backlog in downstate crematories and cemeteries operating, as well as storage issues for funeral homes and hospitals overwhelmed with bodies. Even running at double their normal capacity, New York City’s four crematories this week were not accepting new appointments until well into May.

In New York, a body could only be cremated if the next of kin had signed an authorization form, including the name and the address of the crematory. This form must also be signed by a funeral director acting as a witness.

Although upstate crematories have the capacity to cremate bodies in a timely manner, the rules required a new signature from the next of kin, as well as a new form including the address and name of the crematory, to send a body to a different facility.

To expedite this, the cemetery board voted to allow funeral directors or individuals authorized to deliver the remains on behalf of funeral directors to manually correct cremation authorization forms with the consent of the family of the deceased. The regulations are effective immediately.

As The New York Times follows the spread of the coronavirus across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, we need your help. We want to talk to doctors, nurses, lab technicians, respiratory therapists, emergency services workers, nursing home managers — anyone who can share what’s happening in the region’s hospitals and other health care centers.

A reporter or editor may contact you. Your information will not be published without your consent.

Reporting was contributed by Kevin Armstrong, Jo Corona, Maria Cramer, Michael Gold, Andy Newman, Andrea Salcedo, Edgar Sandoval, Nate Schweber, Matt Stevens and Nikita Stewart.

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