New York state coronavirus cases soar to more than 1,300, hospitalizing 19%

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference to discuss the first positive case of novel coronavirus or COVID-19 in New York State on March 2, 2020 in New York City.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

The COVID-19 outbreak in New York state has spread to at least 1,374 people, hospitalizing 19% of them and killing at least 12, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.

Cuomo said at least 264 New Yorkers, or 19% of the known cases, have been hospitalized with COVID-19. The number of New Yorkers hospitalized with the virus is higher than average, Cuomo said during a press briefing Tuesday on the COVID-19 outbreak spreading throughout the state.

The state is scrambling to expand its hospital capacity to handle an influx of cases before infections peak here, he said. New York currently has 53,000 hospital beds and 3,000 ICU beds, far short of what state health officials are predicting will be needed, he said. They estimate the state will need between 18,600 to 37,200 ICU beds and at least 55,000 hospital beds at the peak of the outbreak across the state, which he predicted will take about 45 days.

“That, my friends, is the problem that we’ve been talking about since the beginning of this exercise,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo joined the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut on Monday in jointly announcing several measures to reduce density throughout the region, citing “a lack of federal direction and nationwide standards.” The states are closing movie theaters and limiting public gatherings to fewer than 50 people.

“Our primary goal right now is to slow the spread of this virus so that the wave of new infections doesn’t crash our health-care system, and everyone agrees social distancing is the best way to do that,” Cuomo said. “This is not a war that can be won alone, which is why New York is partnering with our neighboring states to implement a uniform standard that not only keeps our people safe but also prevents ‘state shopping’ where residents of one state travel to another and vice versa.”

Cuomo warned Monday that the outbreak would stretch U.S. hospitals to their maximum capacity, saying the nation doesn’t have enough hospital beds to handle a pandemic.

“When we’re going to have a real problem is when cases hit their apex and descend on the health-care system and we will not have enough hospital beds,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said he sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to deploy the Army Corps of Engineers to the state to “start building temporary health-care capacity.” He also criticized the federal government’s response to the pandemic, saying it has “been behind from day one on this crisis.”  

“States, frankly, don’t have the capacity or the power to make up for the federal government,” Cuomo said. He called on U.S. officials to coordinate closings across the country, saying state and local leaders have adopted a “hodgepodge” of different actions.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

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