ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo today said it appears the state has either reached, or has nearly reached, a plateau in the number of cases of COVID-19. He said the number of deaths from the virus has been effectively flat for a second day. In his daily press conference, he said the data suggests that the social distancing restrictions have been working. But he urged caution.
“There is a real danger in getting over-confident too early. Other places have made that mistake,” he said as a graphic behind him showed headlines about the virus' resurgence in South Korea and China.
Cuomo said the shutdown of schools and non-essential services will be extended to April 29.
“I know that's a negative for many, many reasons. But public health demands we stay on PAUSE.”
The governor said that improving weather has drawn more people outside, and increased violations of state public health policy. He announced that the fine for violations of the social distance policy is being increased from $500 to $1000, and he called on local governments to strictly enforce the ban.
“There's been a laxness that is wholly unacceptable,” he said. “We don't want the money. We want the compliance. We are serious. You don't have the right to risk someone else's life.”
Cuomo said the entire hospital system is at maximum capacity today, a strain he said that cannot be maintained for any length of time. He said he'd be speaking with the president to request that the USN Comfort be made available as a COVID-19 facility, which would add another thousand beds as overflow, in addition to the soon-to-be available 2,500 beds at the Javits Center. Both will be staffed by military personnel.
“For now, we are continuing to surge and flex through the New York State health care system,” he said. “Every hospital is running low on everything, but right now, all critical need is being met. There is no hospital that needs supplies that doesn't have them.”
The governor said downstate hospitals are using BiPap machines and re-tooled anesthesia machines to supplement the ventilators on hand, and he said the states of Oregon, Washington and California are sending ventilators to New York. Thanks to them, he said, “Right now, we're okay on ventilators.”
The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the state is now as 130,689. The death toll stands at 4,758. He said hospital admissions are down, as are ICU admissions. Other states, he said, including New Jersey, Michigan, and Louisiana, are now in “real difficulty.”