New York has seen its first coronavirus-related death, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
The 82-year-old New York City woman had emphysema and COVID-19. She died Friday, Cuomo said.
“The patient, an elderly woman with advanced emphysema, was admitted to the hospital last week as one of our first cases, and had been in critical condition ever since. We’ve known from the outset that these people are the most at risk in this pandemic, and today’s news is a sad confirmation of that reality. I want to thank the staff of Wyckoff Medical Center for their efforts to save this woman’s life, and all the medical professionals on the front lines protecting our most vulnerable,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the first fatality in New York City from coronavirus. This is a painful moment and one we furiously worked to avoid. We urge all New Yorkers to continue to take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and their fellow New Yorkers safe and healthy. We never for a moment lost sight of how serious this situation is, but this tragedy reflects how critical and dire the spread of the virus really is. Our hearts go out to the family during this difficult time,” New York City Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said.
“We should not be surprised if we see additional deaths,” Dr. Barbot said. “That’s why it’s incumbent on all New Yorkers to change our behavior.”
“We need to make sure that New Yorkers are clear that if they are having symptoms, they should stay home,” Dr. Barbot said. “The social isolation that we’re putting in place is really only going to work if New Yorkers change their behavior.”
While asymptomatic people are a concern, the evidence has shown that people are most likely to transmit the virus when they have a fever and other symptoms, which is why officials continually repeat the same message: If you’re sick, stay home. Dr. Barbot said people who feel ill should stay home for 3-4 days and, if they’re not feeling better at that point, contact their health care provider. Officials want to preserve coronavirus test kits for people most at risk, reminding people that eighty percent of cases self-resolve.
She again urged New Yorkers to maintain good hygiene practices: Frequent, thorough handwashing, covering your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze, and so on.
Dr. Barbot said the current estimate for the duration of the pandemic is through September.
The number of positive cases in New York jumped by 100 to 524 Saturday, Cuomo announced. Cuomo has repeatedly said that as testing expands, more and more cases will be found.
Of the 524 cases in New York state, 117 are hospitalized. Cuomo said that though that seems like a high rate of hospitalization, he believes the actual number of people who have coronavirus vastly exceeds the 524 cases that tested positive. He has long said he believes testing has lagged far behind the actual spread of the virus.
New York City has 183 cases, up 29 from Friday. Of those, 30 are hospitalized, with 19 in the ICU. Eighty percent of those hospitalized are over 50 years old or have preexisting conditions, de Blasio said.
An FDNY member at a Brooklyn firehouse tested positive for coronavirus, prompting 31 of his fellow FDNY fellow to enter self-quarantine. Their firehouse is being cleaned and staffed with other firefighters. De Blasio said the FDNY member didn’t respond to any medical runs or treat patients.
A student at IS-27 on Staten Island has tested positive for coronavirus. The student had not been in school all week and had stayed home, de Blasio said. The school is being sanitized and contact tracing of the student has begun.
Cuomo said he’s concerned about hospital capacity.
“The rate of hospitalization is what this is all about,” Cuomo said.
New York Presbyterian Hospital announced that it has “made the decision to postpone all elective procedures and surgeries beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 until further notice.”
Their hospitals will remain open and urgent and emergency surgeries will continue. New York Presbyterian Hospital patients with questions can call (646)-697-4000. For more information, click here.
On Friday, New Rochelle got the state’s first drive-thru testing facility. Cuomo said about 150 vehicles passed through for testing, and he expects that number will increase daily. The tests went faster than the 15 minutes-per-car originally estimated.
“You can’t just come, you have to call first, make an appointment and then come, each car is here for about 15 minutes. The phone number is 888-364-3065. We are prioritizing people from New Rochelle first because again that’s where we want to reduce that density, reduce those cases,” Cuomo said Friday.
On Saturday, Cuomo announced that officials are now looking for a drive-thru testing location on Long Island, and that Jones Beach was being closely looked at for that purpose.
De Blasio said he’d like to see drive-thru testing come to New York City.
While praising recent moves by the Trump administration, De Blasio said that the federal government needs to get on a war footing to fully address the pandemic.
“We need an actual, full, federal response, and we’re still not even close,” de Blasio said.