Nearly 600 people in New York state die of coronavirus Saturday, but Cuomo says toll may be around ‘apex’

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NEW YORK — Nearly 600 additional people died of coronavirus in New York state on Saturday — a grim number but the first time the toll increased by a smaller amount than the day before, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“We could be either very near the apex or the apex could be a plateau and we could be on that plateau right now,” he told reporters Sunday in Albany. “We won’t know until you see the next few days. Does it go up, does it go down?”

Saturday marked the first time that the number of new deaths, 594, went down from the previous day, when it rose by 630. On Thursday, there were 562 new fatalities.

The state’s number of confirmed COVID cases rose to 122,031 Saturday, but the number of new hospitalizations was 574, compared to 1,095 the day before. Daily intubations also decreased.

New York City’s death toll reached 2,472 Sunday afternoon, increasing by 218 from the day before, according to the Health Department. The number of confirmed cases increased by 4,105, to 64,955.

Cuomo cautioned that it’s “too early to tell” the significance of the statewide numbers.

“There’s also a difference of opinion on what happens at the apex,” he said. “You could argue that you’re seeing a slight plateauing in the data, which obviously would be good news, because it means you’re plateaued for a period of time and then you start to come down.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it’s too soon to say whether the city has reached its apex.

“I see a few signs that are a little hopeful, for sure,” he told reporters. “I think it’s early to be able to declare that. Let’s hope and pray, but we’re not quite there yet.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, said the virus has yet to peak in the Empire State.

“We are still going to see an increase,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “This next week is going to look bad because we’re still not yet at that apex. And I think within a week, eight days or nine days or so, we hopefully are going to see that turnaround.”

The federal government is sending 1,000 staff, including doctors and nurses, to the state, according to Cuomo. He said 325 were being sent to publicly run hospitals in New York City on Sunday.

“The system was under stress to begin with before any of this,” Cuomo said of NYC Health + Hospitals’ 11 facilities, “so obviously, (if) you add more stress to institutions that were under stress, it only makes the situation more difficult.”

He added that the state is “codifying what we’re learning” so the information can be shared with other states as they reach peak levels of coronavirus cases.

“We get past this curve, whatever part of the country goes next, we will be there with equipment and personnel and however we can help,” Cuomo said.

He also nodded to the “cabin fever” many New Yorkers have been experiencing since he issued a series of executive orders effectively shutting down the state.

“It’s a real thing. Think about it. It’s only been one month, but it’s been a long month,” the governor said, adding that he’s taking up running again to deal with the stress. “You can see where the story ends … I think you see the return to normalcy when we have an approved rapid testing program that can be brought to scale.”


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