A New York City Police officer (NYPD) puts on gloves as people wait in line to be tested for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York City [Stefan Jeremiah/Reuters]
New York state coronavirus deaths spiked to 385, with 100 new deaths recorded in a single day as Governor Andrew Cuomo warned residents on Thursday that the state's situation was increasingly dire. The death toll surged to more than 1,000 nationwide in the United States.
New York had 37,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday morning. This was an increase of nearly 6,500 cases from the night before.
"Almost any scenario that is realistic will overwhelm the current capacity of the healthcare system," Cuomo said during the briefing.
The peak of the virus is expected to hit the US in about two or three weeks. Cuomo previously projected New York would need roughly 110,000 hospital beds, but now says the state would as many as 140,000.
The governor also called for increased efforts to produce ventilators, necessary medical tools to deal with severe cases of COVID-19.
While most patients with severe cases of COVID-19 need ventilators for three or four days, some have needed them for up to 30 days, according to reports.
"We do have people who have been on for quite a period of time," Cuomo said. "The longer stays without recovery lead to a higher death rate."
Cuomo said he was considering more drastic measures to contain the spread of the virus, including the closure of main thoroughfares in New York City, as well as certain parks and playgrounds. He has repeatedly called for increase support from the federal government.
Workers construct what is believed to be a makeshift morgue behind a hospital during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York [Carlo Allegri/Reuters]
Of the total confirmed cases, 5,327 people, or about 14 percent, have been hospitalised and 1,290, or 3.4 percent, are in intensive care units, according to local media outlet Syracuse.com.
"We always said this is not going to be over quickly," Cuomo said. "I understand people are tired, but I also understand that people in this situation are stepping up to the plate and doing phenomenal work."
Public health officials in the city hunted down beds and medical equipment and called for more doctors and nurses.
A makeshift morgue was set up outside Bellevue Hospital, and the city's police, their ranks dwindling as more fall ill, were told to patrol nearly empty streets to enforce social distancing.
'Reckless' relief package
In a recognition of the scale of the threat, the US Senate late Wednesday passed an unparalleled $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and healthcare systems.
But Cuomo warned the economic toll of the coronavirus outbreak will be dramatic in New York, and castigated federal officials for what he called a failure to address lost revenue in their $2.2 trillion relief package.
“The Congressional action, in my opinion, simply failed to address the governmental need,” he said. “I find it irresponsible. I find it reckless.”
Cuomo said the outbreak creates a “double whammy” of increased state costs and lost revenue of up to $15bn as businesses shutter and workers are laid off. The governor said the state will have to adjust its budget plan for the fiscal year beginning April 1 because revenue figures are so uncertain.
While the relief plan before Congress would send $5bn for COVID-19-related expenses, Cuomo said the larger issue is lost revenue.