The imperative for new ventilators in New York City is not as crucial as officials worried it would be this week, but the state continues to grapple with per day increases in the COVID-19 death toll.
The pandemic respiratory disease claimed the lives of 731 New Yorkers on Monday and 779 more on Tuesday, bringing the state's total COVID-19 deaths to 6,268 as of Wednesday.
New York City still needs more life-saving ventilators in its battle against COVID-19, but officials are now saying with confidence that the city can make through the week with its current supply.
Mayor Bill de Blasio took the podium Wednesday morning to reaffirm earlier state data that indicates a flattening of the curve of COVID-19 hospitalizations and, most significantly, a reduction in the number of patients with critical symptoms.
Whereas city hospitals were intubating 200 - 300 patients per day last week and seeing that number rising daily, this week that number is down to 100 per day or fewer.
"That is a very striking difference," de Blasio said. "It is early, it is preliminary, but that is a striking difference. We thought we would need many more ventilators to come in this week just to get through the week."
Last week, the city projected it would need 2,500 - 3,000 new ventilators to make it through a crucial week this week. By Sunday, that request was down to 1,000 - 1,500. By Wednesday, the number was even lower, though de Blasio said it was too early to project the needs for next week.
He thanked the state and federal government for coming through each time the city called for help during the crisis.
Governor Andrew Cuomo briefed reporters Wednesday afternoon saying it was a day of "very mixed emotions" in New York.
State hospitals were releasing more patients than they had coming in for the first time in the crisis, reducing the need for utilization of overflow sites like those at NYC's Javits convention center and the USNS Comfort in New York Harbor.
"The number of deaths will continue to rise as those hospitalized for a longer period of time pass away," Cuomo said. "The longer you are on a ventilator, the less likely you are to come off a ventilator."
Regarding the positive results, Cuomo says the state's aggressive social distancing measures are entirely responsible. For the fourth day in a row, he urged New Yorkers not to get "complacent" and assume victory is at hand.
"If we stop what we are doing, that curve will rise," he said. "That curve is purely a function of what we are doing."
Certain hospitals in the state are now below capacity, another good sign for the sustainability of the medical infrastructure going forward.
Mayor de Blasio reported more good news, in terms of the NYC's sickened first responders.
More than 1,300 FDNY EMTs, paramedics and firefighters who had COVID-19 symptoms or confirmed cases of the disease have returned to duty. Over 270 NYPD members who tested positive for the coronavirus have also returned to duty.
De Blasio added that his administration is drawing up plans to address "clear inequalities" in the racial and ethnic communities in the city that are affected by the virus. He noted that Hispanic and black residents are dying from COVID-19 at a rate disproportionate to their percentage of the population.
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