Health and Science

New York state coronavirus cases soar to about 1,700, hospitalizing 19%

Key Points
  • New York officials say the state's coronavirus total has jumped to 1,700, with at least 19% hospitalized.
  • They said the number of cases will continue to rise as the state receives more test results.
  • New York has 53,000 hospital beds and 3,000 ICU beds, far short of what state health officials are predicting will be needed, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
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 about 1,700 people, hospitalizing 19% of them and killing at least 12, state officials announced Tuesday.

They said the number of cases will continue to rise as the state receives more test results.

The state is scrambling to expand its hospital capacity to handle an influx of cases before infections peak in an estimated 45 days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany. New York 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  at least 55,000 hospital beds and between 18,600 to 37,200 ICU beds at the peak of the outbreak.

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

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The fast-moving virus has spread to more than 183,000 people across the globe, killing more than 7,100, since emerging from Wuhan, China, less than three months ago. The number of cases changes by the minute. State officials are revising their data throughout the day, Cuomo's spokesman Will Burns said.

At the beginning of the press conference, Cuomo said the state had more than 1,300 cases with a hospitalization rate of 19%. About 30 minutes into the news conference, state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker told Cuomo the number of cases had increased to about 1,700. Cuomo's data, according to Burns, was current as of midnight and given to Cuomo at 6 a.m. Zucker's updated numbers will be revised later Tuesday.

Cuomo joined the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut on Monday in announcing coordinated 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 on 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.

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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.

On Tuesday, Cuomo and Trump agreed to work together to fight the coronavirus pandemic, reaching a cease-fire in their war of words. The Democratic governor asked the federal government to help his state fight the spread of COVID-19.

"It is essential that the federal government works with this state," Cuomo said at the press conference. "We cannot do this on our own."

Trump responded in kind during a midday briefing at the White House. "With respect to Governor Cuomo, we had a really good talk this morning," Trump said. "We're both doing a really good job."

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