Cuomo rallies New Yorkers as state coronavirus death toll tops 500

Tribune Content Agency

NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an emotional rallying cry Friday, calling on New Yorkers to show their grit as the state readies for the growing storm that has already left 519 dead.

The governor thanked members of the National Guard who spent the week converting the Javits Convention Center into a 1,000-bed temporary medical center and said the state is doing all it can to prepare for the swell of sick New Yorkers expected to contract the deadly respiratory illness.

“We go out there today and we kick coronavirus’s ass, that’s what I say, and we’re gonna save lives and New York is going to thank you,” Cuomo declared.

A frightening 134 people died due to the COVID-19 disease since Thursday, Cuomo noted, adding that more than 44,000 people have now tested positive in the state. Currently, 6,481 patients are hospitalized in the state and 1,583 are in the ICU.

“We are battling a deadly virus,” Cuomo said. “It’s the worst news but it’s not unexpected news either.”

The surge in deaths is a product of people who have been dependent upon a ventilator for weeks, Cuomo said, noting that the longer someone relies on the device, the less likely they are to survive.

“The reason why the number is going up is because some people came into the hospital 20 days, 25 days ago and have been on a ventilator for that long period of time,” he said.

As the Big Apple has become the worldwide epicenter of the pandemic the governor and state health officials have stressed the state’s desperate need for ventilators and hospital beds.

Cuomo said he is asking President Donald Trump to authorize second set of four temporary hospitals to help alleviate the burden on doctors and nurses in the five boroughs, as well as Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties.

The four sites Cuomo will suggest to the president include the Brooklyn cruise terminal, Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, the New York Expo Center in the Bronx and the College of Staten Island. Similar sites have already been approved in the suburbs.

A Navy hospital ship is expected to arrive in New York Harbor on Monday to help handle overflow.

Cuomo also said he was considering converting the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge hotel for use as an emergency medical facility.

“We want to do everything we can to be ready for that increased capacity that could hit us in 21 days,” he said.

The governor said prediction models say New York will hit the highest point of the crisis around mid-April, a week after Easter Sunday.

“We’re looking at about 21 days for a possible apex,” Cuomo said. “So we want to do everything we can to be ready for (what) could hit us in 21 days. … We are doing everything we can.”

The state total currently includes 25,398 cases in the city. More than 4,000 people tested positive in the five boroughs in the past 24 hours alone, a grim sign that the strain on the medical community is worsening.

In the city, 366 people have died of coronavirus in recent weeks. Of the cases, 4,655 are in the Bronx, 6,750 in Brooklyn, 4,478 in Manhattan, and 1,400 in Staten Island.

A whopping 8,214 cases are in Queens, or nearly a third of the city’s total, where Elmhurst Hospital has become overwhelmed by patients.

Cuomo in calling for more federal help also pushed back on Trump’s claim that the state doesn’t “really need” 30,000 respirators.

“I don’t operate here on opinion. I operate on facts and on data and on numbers and on projections,” he said. “That’s what the data and the science says.

The governor struck an emotional tone when he predicted that New Yorkers will “shed a tear” when they recall those who succumbed to the pandemic.

“We are living a moment in history. This is going to be one of those moments where they’ll write about and talk about for generations,” he said. “This is a moment that’s going to change this nation. “

Addressing hard-pressed New Yorkers, Cuomo assured public servants and first responders that they would be remembered as the heroes of a momentous struggle to save their hometown.

“You showed up. When other people played it safe, you had the courage to show up. You had the skills and the professionalism to make a difference and safe lives,” he said. “That’s what you have done. At the end of the day, nobody can ask anything more from you.”


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