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Confirmed coronavirus cases in New York doubled in one day

Thousands are in quarantine across the state.

March 6, 2020 Mary Frost
Mayor Bill de Blasio is meeting on a daily basis with health and emergency management officials as the novel coronavirus crisis unfolds in New York City. Center: Dr. Oxiris Barbot, commissioner of the New York City Health Department. Photo: Office of the Mayor via Twitter
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In a pre-weekend coronavirus tally, officials said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York state doubled from Thursday to late Friday.

On Thursday, there were 22 confirmed cases across the state. By late Friday, 44 cases had been identified.

New York City’s total reached five, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at an end-of-day conference. De Blasio and health officials said they expected that number to go up.

“We are pivoting into person-to-person spread in the community,” Dr. Oxiris Barbot, commissioner of the New York City Health Department, said late Friday. This means New Yorkers are more likely to catch the novel coronavirus from someone in the community than from someone who has visited one of the watch-list countries.

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“Stay home if you’re sick, don’t go to work,” Barbot said. “We have a habit of wanting to power through. Stay home 24 to 48 hours. Reach out to your doctor if you are sick for more than two days.”

The city’s latest case is a 51-year-old-man from the Upper West Side who contracted the novel coronavirus in New Rochelle, where there is a cluster of cases.

The outbreak first came to light after an attorney from New Rochelle with an office in midtown Manhattan was found to have the virus. The man’s 20-year-old son, who attends Yeshiva University, and his 14-year-old daughter, a student at SAR Academy and High School in the Bronx, were also confirmed to have the virus. In addition, a neighbor who drove the man to the hospital and several others tested positive.

The Westchester lawyer had been in critical condition, but his condition has been downgraded to serious, de Blasio said. He acquired the infection from someone in the community, but it is not known where since he was too ill to speak to the city’s disease detectives.

In New York City, de Blasio said that a 40-year-old man had been hospitalized, but has been discharged to home isolation. An elderly woman from Brooklyn remains in critical condition but is getting better, he said.

The 51-year-old man who caught the coronavirus in Westchester actually lives on the Upper West Side. The man has no pre-existing conditions, is mildly symptomatic and is isolated at home. His wife is 47 years old, and he has three daughters, ages eight, 10 and 11 who are all mildly symptomatic, with symptoms resembling a cold, de Blasio said.

Another coronavirus patient is a 32-year-old health care worker from Hackensack Medical Center. He has a main residence in Midtown Manhattan and also an apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey, de Blasio said. The man last worked on Feb. 29 seeing patients, but he was wearing a mask and gloves. He saw ten patients but none are symptomatic at this point, the mayor said. The city is tracing his other contacts.

De Blasio said that coronavirus spreads mainly through bodily fluids introduced directly into the body through mouth, nose or eyes.

“Hands can be a pathway, a lot of people don’t even know they’re doing it,” he said. “You kind of need a direct hit, it doesn’t just hang in the air. If someone sneezes on a countertop, it only lasts minutes.” Coronavirus can’t be caught by ingesting it, de Blasio said — so if someone sneezes in your soup you won’t catch it.

De Blasio said that the number of positive cases is expected to rise as new testing capability has just become available.

“We now have substantial new testing that has come online through the private sector,” he said. “We can do hundreds of tests a day, but we want to get up to thousands. We need the FDA to approve a test that is faster and more efficient,” he added. “The speed and efficiency is still not what we want it to be.”

Cuomo said Friday that limited testing capacity is thwarting the state’s ability to contain the virus.

Thousands of New Yorkers are in quarantine, either precautionary or mandatory, Cuomo said.

About 4,000 are in precautionary quarantine statewide. There are 2,700 in New York City, 1,000 in Westchester, 115 in Erie County, 70 in Nassau, 15 in Tompkins, 15 in Suffolk, 11 in Albany, four in Broome, 12 in Schenectady and six in Warren County.

On Friday, 44 were in mandatory quarantine: nine in New York City, 33 in Westchester, one in Eerie and one in Nassau County.

All of the officials emphasized that the best way to avoid catching the virus is to frequently wash hands with soap and water and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in between. People should cough into their sleeves, avoid shaking hands and hugging, and avoid touching their faces.

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