More than 20,000 New Yorkers have been infected by the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday, meaning the Empire State now accounts for 5 percent of all cases worldwide.
In a press conference from Albany, the governor said 20,875 cases had been confirmed in New York as of the latest count _ an increase by 5,707 since Sunday.
“You can see that New York, far and away, has the bulk of the problem,” Cuomo said.
Of those cases, 12,339 were in New York City, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.
On Sunday night, the Big Apple’s death toll rose to 99, though the mayor’s office did not have an updated count as of Monday afternoon. Statewide, 157 people have died of the virus, Cuomo said.
With New York now officially under a stay-at-home decree, Cuomo also announced he was issuing an emergency order mandating all hospitals in the state to increase their capacities by at least 50% to accommodate the continuously growing number of coronavirus patients.
“Find more beds, use more rooms,” Cuomo said.
New York has emerged as the U.S. epicenter for the fast-spreading virus, and the city is dealing with the brunt of the problem.
Washington, New Jersey and California, where officials are dealing with bad outbreaks as well, have less than 7,000 confirmed cases combined.
Globally, more than 360,000 people have been infected by the respiratory virus.
In addition to the hospital capacity boost, Cuomo said he was signing an executive order that would recommend all registered nurses to enlist in the escalating fight against the virus.
Roughly 13 percent of all infected New Yorkers are hospitalized, Cuomo said.
Hospitals across the state are reporting they’re quickly running out of space and supplies, such as ventilators, masks, gloves and gowns.
Cuomo said the state is sending millions of so-called N95 masks to New York City and Long Island over the next few days to alleviate the shortage.
But he anticipated that those supplies won’t last long and reiterated a call for President Donald Trump to activate the Defense Production Act.
Trump invoked the 1950 law last week, allowing him to order medical companies to ramp up production of masks and other sorely-needed supplies.
However, in a confusing turn of events, Trump has refused to activate the Korean War-era law.
On Sunday, Trump claimed he was holding off because the U.S., unlike Venezuela, is not a country “based on nationalizing our business.”
Cuomo dismissed Trump’s hesitation as red-baiting nonsense.
“Yes, it is an assertion of government power on private sector companies. Yes. But so what? This is a national emergency,” the governor said.
Despite New York’s rapidly worsening situation, Cuomo said his administration is already looking into a plan that would allow most people to return to work _ an announcement likely to placate Trump, who’s worried about the virus causing an election-year recession.
“At some point, you have to open the valve because this is not sustainable,” Cuomo said of the preliminary plan, which he dubbed “NY FORWARD.”
The governor also confirmed New York will begin testing an anti-malaria drug on coronavirus patients.
Later Monday, Cuomo toured Manhattan’s Javits Center, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency is in the process of transforming into a field hospital. Cuomo said the event space will be able to accommodate 1,000 patients.
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