New York State's total of novel coronavirus cases continues to inflate, with nearly 45,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 500 deaths as of Friday morning.
The number of COVID-19 deaths in New York State in just two weeks now exceeds the total of homicide victims in New York City in the entirety of 2019.
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have risen dramatically in the last 10 days, but Governor Andrew Cuomo cautioned that social distancing measures appear to be working, slowing the rate of emergencies over the past five days.
State and federal officials hope the numbers demons a slowing rate of infection, but the height of the crisis is still in front of them. Gov. Cuomo said projections indicate the worst of it is still about three weeks away.
"This doesn't attack the strong among us," Cuomo said Friday from the floor of the Javits convention center, which has recently been converted into a makeshift hospital. "These are our parents, our aunts and uncles, a relative who is sick. Every instinct says protect them, they need us. But those are the exact people this enemy attacks."
Precise figures from the state Friday morning announced 44,635 cases and 519 deaths. So far about 14.5 percent of total cases require hospitalization. Of the COVID-19 cases that require hospitalization, about a quarter require treatment in the ICU.
Cuomo has over the past week, attributed part of New York's extraordinary coronavirus totals to the prevalence of testing. He says the state has conducted more coronavirus tests per capita than anyplace else in the world, including China and South Korea.
As of Friday, the United States reported more confirmed coronavirus cases than any country in the world, including Italy, which has endured the most deaths due to the virus, and China, which has reported the second most total cases.
New York State has seen the greatest impact due to the coronavirus, with more than half of all cases in the U.S. Most of those cases are concentrated in the NYC's five boroughs. About 20 percent of NYC cases so far require hospitalization, Cuomo said.
Deaths from the virus in New York City alone by Friday amount to nearly a third of all of those in the United States.
A majority of city cases are in people under 50 years old, but three-quarters of COVID-19 deaths are in people 75 and older.
City hospitals are close to capacity, according to officials, and healthcare workers are also beginning to get sick. Treatment for COVID-19 cases will soon be moved to makeshift shelters, like the one at the Javits Center.
Elmhurst Hospital in Queens reported 13 deaths due to the virus in just 24 hours from Wednesday to Thursday.
One Manhattan-based doctor, who treated Ebola patients in Guinea in 2015, described the ER at his hospital as an incessant "cacophony of coughing, and said he fears COVID-19 more than anything he's seen before in his profession.
To make matters worse, hospitals are running low on personal protective equipment and ventilators. State health officials recently approved ventilator-splitting to allow two patients to share one machine. Cuomo called the technique "not ideal," but "workable" and necessary due to the ventilator shortage.
Hospitals have what they need for now and more help is on the way, but Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio still expressed misgivings about what the next few weeks will bring.
Any relaxation of social distancing measures could result in a spike in cases that neither the city nor the state are prepared to absorb.
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