New York state, epicenter of America’s coronavirus crisis, set another single-day record of COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, as veteran doctors and nurses voiced astonishment at the speed with which patients were deteriorating and dying.
The number of known coronavirus infections in New York state alone approached 150 000 on Wednesday, even as authorities warned that the official death tally may understate the true number because it omits those who have perished at home.
“Every number is a face, ” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who ordered flags flown at half-staff across New York in memory of the victims.
We are going to fight every way we can to save every life that we can.
That’s what it means to be an American and that’s what it means to be a New Yorker. pic.twitter.com/1cREWGx9t9
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 25, 2020
“This virus attacked the vulnerable and attacked the weak, and it’s our job as a society to protect the vulnerable.”
Doctors and nurses say elderly patients and those with underlying health conditions are not the only ones who appear relatively well one moment and at death’s door the next. It happens to the young and healthy, too.
Patients “look fine, feel fine, then you turn around and they’re unresponsive,” said Diana Torres, a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, the center of the nation’s worst outbreak. “I’m paranoid, scared to walk out of their room.”
Nearly 430 000 cases of COVID-19, the highly infectious lung disease caused by the coronavirus, were confirmed in the United States as of Wednesday afternoon, including more than 14 700 deaths.
For the second straight day the virus killed at least 1 900 in a 24-hour period.
Cuomo said 779 people had died in the past day in his state.
New Jersey reported 275 had died there. Both totals exceeded one-day records from just a day earlier.
Despite the grim figures, Cuomo said overall trends still appeared positive.
Cuomo cited a drop in new hospitalizations and other data as evidence that New York’s social-distancing restrictions were “bending the curve,” helping to gain some control over the infection rate.
New York is one of 42 states where governors have issued “stay-at-home” orders and closed all non-essential workplaces.
While public health experts say such measures are vital for controlling the contagion, the restrictions have strangled the US economy, leading to widespread layoffs, upheavals on Wall Street and projections of a severe recession.
Cuomo said the loss of life would likely continue at current levels or increase in days ahead as critically ill patients die after prolonged bouts hooked up to ventilators.
US deaths due to coronavirus topped 14 700 on Wednesday,the second highest reported number in the world behind Italy,according to a Reuters tally.
New York state accounts for over a third of the US total.
Officials have warned Americans to expect alarming numbers of coronavirus deaths this week, even as an influential university model on Wednesday scaled back its projected US pandemic death toll by 26% to 60 000.