Death toll soars after NYC counts ‘probable’ fatalities
NEW YORK (AP) — The official death toll from the coronavirus soared in New York City on Tuesday after health authorities began including people who probably had COVID-19, but died without ever being tested.
Officials reported 3,778 “probable” deaths, where doctors were certain enough of the cause of death to list it on the death certificate, and 6,589 confirmed by a lab test. Combined, that would put the total fatalities in the city over 10,000.
The change in the city’s accounting of deaths came after officials acknowledged that statistics based only on laboratory-confirmed tests were failing to account for many people dying at home before they reached a hospital or even sought treatment.
“Behind every death is a friend, a family member, a loved one. We are focused on ensuring that every New Yorker who died because of COVID-19 gets counted,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “While these data reflect the tragic impact that the virus has had on our city, they will also help us to determine the scale and scope of the epidemic and guide us in our decisions.”
New Yorkers continue to die at an unnerving pace even as the number of patients in hospitals has leveled off.
Earlier Tuesday, officials said 778 deaths were recorded statewide Monday, bringing New York’s total to more than 10,800. That figure, though, did not factor in the probable deaths now being counted in New York City.
Here are other developments in the coronavirus outbreak:
Trump, Cuomo clash
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized President Donald Trump’s claim of “total” authority to reopen the nation’s virus-stalled economy, saying Tuesday he was talking more like a king than a president.
The Democratic governor criticized Trump’s assertion Monday that “when somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total.”
“His proclamation is that he would be king, that’s what a king is,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing. “A king has total authority. That statement cannot stand.”
The Republican president made his comments after Cuomo and governors on both coasts announced multi-state compacts to coordinate reopening society amid the global pandemic.
Cuomo said restarting the economy must be done cautiously, or the hard-won gains of the past month could be quickly lost.
In a tweet Tuesday, Trump appeared to liken the governors to mutinous crew members in the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty.”
Cuomo said the president was “clearly unhappy.” But after taking aim at the president’s comments Tuesday in multiple TV appearances and during his state Capitol briefing, Cuomo said he would not engage in a fight with him.
“The president is clearly spoiling for a fight on this issue,” Cuomo said. “This is too important for anyone to play politics.”
Medical crush easing
Still, more than 1,600 new COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Monday.
Meanwhile, New York City’s once-overwhelmed 911 system is now seeing a more normal volume of medical calls, another sign the crisis could be ebbing.
The fire department, which runs the city’s EMS system, said it received 3,932 calls requesting ambulances Sunday, down from a record high of 6,527 on March 30. The average volume last March and April was just over 4,000 calls.
Sunday was the sixth straight day that the city’s medical call volume was lower than the previous day.
The fire department said it’s too early to know exactly why volume has dropped.
Made in New York
State and city officials have stressed the need to greatly expand coronavirus testing before any relaxation of social distancing guidelines can be contemplated. Health care workers have complained throughout the virus pandemic of shortages of personal protective equipment like gowns and face shields.
De Blasio said eight city companies are now making 240,000 face shields a week and will ramp up to 465,000 by April 24 and to 620,000 soon after.
He said five companies are making 30,000 surgical gowns a week and the goal is more than 250,000 weekly.
De Blasio said the city will purchase 50,000 test kits a week from Indiana-based Aria-Diagnostics.
“It’s bad enough people are losing their jobs, and don’t have food to eat, are separated from their families and loved ones,” Schumer said. “But to not be able to give a decent funeral and burial to someone who is near and dear to you is outrageous.”
Ocasio-Cortez said the coronavirus is “decimating an already vulnerable community” and funeral costs are one more burden.
Transit worker tribute
The city’s commuter infrastructure has been operating at a reduced schedule, serving mainly to health care workers and other essential employees.
The MTA, which runs the city’s subways and buses, said 59 employees have died of coronavirus and more than 2,200 workers have tested positive for the disease.
Former lawmaker dies
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