NY Gov. Cuomo extends school closures as statewide coronavirus deaths cross 500

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National Guard troops listen as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to the press at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, on March 27, 2020.

Bryan R. Smith | AFP | Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended school closures across the state by two weeks to April 15 as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, he said Friday.

“When you look at the number of cases that’s still increasing, it only makes sense to keep the schools closed,” he said at a press conference. The state confirmed 7,377 new cases overnight, bringing the total in the state to 44,635. More than 25,300 of those cases are concentrated in New York City. The number of deaths also jumped exponentially overnight, by 134, bringing the total number of fatalities across the state to 519.

COVID-19 cases are “still doubling, and that’s still bad news,” he said, speaking at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is setting up temporary hospitals. “The rate of increase is slowing. But the number of cases are still going up.”

“We want to see the rate slowing and then we want to see the number of cases going down or flattening,” he said.

Cuomo is also calling on hospitals across the state to double their capacity. The state currently has 53,000 hospital beds, but will need 140,000 of them for coronavirus patients over the next three weeks when the outbreak is expected to peak in New York, he said.

“We’re asking hospitals to try to increase capacity 100% … “We’re looking at converting dorms. We’re looking at converting hotels,” he said. 

The state is also facing a dramatic shortage of medical supplies. The state currently has 1.2 million N95 masks, 4.6 million surgical masks, 1.5 million exam gloves, 15,000 gowns and coveralls and 3,000 ventilators. The federal government has contributed hundreds of thousands of masks, gloves and gowns and 4.400 ventilators, but the state needs 20 million N95 masks, 30 million surgical masks, 45 million exam gloves , 20 million gowns and coveralls and 30,000 ventilators, according to a chart displayed at the press conference. 

“We’re seeing an increasing number of deaths because of the length of time people need to be on the ventilator,” he said.  COVID-19 patients also need ventilators a lot longer than most other respiratory patients, 11 to 21 days compared with three or four days, Cuomo said.

Governor Cuomo shows a chart regarding items needed to fight coronavirus.

Source: New York State

The United States now has more COVID-19 cases than Italy and China, making the U.S. the largest outbreak in the world. New York City is the epicenter of the major outbreak in the state, where cases have been doubling every three days.

Cuomo said he worries the outbreak will stretch U.S. hospitals to their maximum capacity, saying the nation doesn’t have enough hospital beds or ventilators to handle a pandemic.

“This is an invisible beast. This is an insidious beast.”

State and city officials plan to close some streets in the nation’s largest city and may close parks and playgrounds there to contain the coronavirus outbreak as cases across the state surge, Cuomo said earlier in the week. 

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

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