New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is closing all playgrounds in New York City as coronavirus deaths start to climb across the state.
"People say, 'well when is it over, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks?' This model projects you're going to have a high death rate through July. If this model is correct, this could go through the summer," Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany on Wednesday.
He said he's been warning residents for weeks that he would close the playgrounds and parks if people didn't abide by new rules designed to reduce density and help curb the outbreak. Local parks will remain open so people can get outside and exercise, he said.
"I warned people that if they didn't stop the density and the games in the playgrounds — you can't play basketball, you can't come in contact with each other — that we would close the playgrounds," he said.
The number of cases continues to climb across the state, rising by more than 10% overnight to 83,712. New York City accounts for more than half of the coronavirus infections across the state at 47,439, according to data Cuomo released at the press conference.
Cuomo said 12,226 people have been hospitalized with the coronavirus, more than 14% of all COVID-19 patients across the state, and 3,022 of them are in intensive care. At least 1,941 people across the state have died so far, he said.
The state is rushing to build temporary hospitals and the federal government has sent 85 refrigerated trucks to store deceased coronavirus patients, hundreds of ambulances, medical personnel and other supplies to New York City.
Cuomo's own family hasn't been immune to the virus. His brother Chris Cuomo, an anchor for CNN, announced yesterday that he tested positive for the coronavirus.
Cuomo said he has a fever, chills and other symptoms of "basically a very bad flu."
Even though Chris Cuomo's prognosis is better than most, because he's younger and healthy, Cuomo said the news scared him.
"I talk to him several times a day, basically spend my whole life with him," Cuomo said. "And it is frightening on a fundamental level. And it's frightening because there's nothing I can do and it's out of my control."
His brother's infection illustrates that anyone can get COVID-19: "Relatively young people, strong people, people who take a lot of vitamin pills, people who go to the gym a lot. There is no superhero who is immune to this disease," he said.
"This situation is the same situation for everyone, for everyone," he said. In a personal admission, Cuomo said: "I love you, little brother."
New York has now become the new epicenter of the outbreak in the world with more reported infections than China's Hubei province where the coronavirus emerged in December. The death toll is expected to rise, with White House officials projecting between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the U.S.
The state is still scrambling to find enough ventilators to get through the peak of the outbreak, which Cuomo is now predicting at the end of April when the state will need 110,000 hospital beds for coronavirus patients. He's been frustrated because the federal government will not nationalize the purchase of vital medical equipment and states are bidding against each other on ventilators and other goods, driving up prices, he said.
The longer a patient is on a ventilator, the less of a chance they will survive, Cuomo's previously said.
"If you go on a ventilator there is roughly only a 20% chance that you will come off the ventilator. The longer you are on the ventilator, the lower the chance that you come off," he said.
On Tuesday, Cuomo said the outbreak in the state may not peak for three weeks.
"I'm tired of being behind this virus. We've been behind this virus from day one," the governor said in Albany. "We underestimated this virus. It's more powerful, it's more dangerous than we expected."