This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Tuesday, March 31st, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here. Read our guide to understanding New York on PAUSE, NY's stay-at-home order; a look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

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7:00 p.m. The White House revealed startling models showing that the coronavirus could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans even despite the use of strong social distancing measures.

"We are going to go through a very tough two weeks," President Trump said during a press conference.

He later added that it could be three weeks and said hospitals would be facing a "war zone."

As of Tuesday, more than 183,000 have tested positive for the virus in the U.S. At least 3,727 patients with the virus have died.

Even while he spoke of the sobering numbers, which in the best case scenario estimated 100,000 deaths, the president touted his administration's interventions, which have been criticized as both too late and too limited. Trump cited one scientific report that said that without any action, the coronavirus could kill 2.2 million people in the country.

"A lot of people have said ride it out," Trump said, adding that some said to "think of it as the flu."

"But it’s not the flu," he added. "It’s vicious."

But early on, Trump repeatedly dismissed and downplayed the threat of the virus and has compared it to being like the common flu. At one point, Trump said that it would simply "disappear."

In fact, the coronavirus is 10 times more lethal than the flu.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who is coordinating the country's response, said New York's profile currently "looks identical to Italy," the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe. Italy has more than 105,000 cases, with more than 10,000 deaths.

Trump said New York "got a late start." Asked about Cuomo's pleas for federal help, he said, "He shouldn't be complaining because we gave him a lot of ventilators."

He added: "No matter what you give, it's never enough."

A spokesperson for Cuomo said in a statement, "This is not the time to debate but the states were not slow to respond - the federal government was absent.”

Cuomo says New York state will need 37,000 ventilators to keep coronavirus patients alive as the health care system becomes increasingly overwhelmed with cases in the next several weeks. The Trump administration has sent 4,000 ventilators from the federal stockpile to New York thus far, and many of them were reportedly damaged or missing parts.

Both Birx and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, one of the leading infectious disease specialists who is also on the White House task force, have said that they hope to improve upon the best case projections.

"We can influence this to varying degrees," Fauci said. "It’s something we need to anticipate…but all of us want to do much much better than that."

More EMTs, Nurses, And Ambulances Headed To NYC

3:47 p.m. Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke to reporters from the USTA Indoor Training Center in Corona, Queens, where 350 new hospital beds were being installed. De Blasio said that the beds, which will be available next week for COVID-19 patients who do not need to be in the ICU, will “help take the pressure off Elmhurst,” the public hospital that has been overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

De Blasio said that before the pandemic, the city had 20,000 hospital beds. “We need, in the next weeks, to triple that number,” the mayor said.

To that end, de Blasio was asked about Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian fundamentalist group that is setting up a 68-bed respiratory unit in Central Park to help Mt. Sinai Hospital with their overflow of coronavirus patients.

The group is led by Franklin Graham, a notorious anti-LGBTQ and Islamophobic preacher with a track record of using humanitarian missions as opportunities to prostyletize.

“When I heard originally that there was an organization that was gonna help Mt. Sinai address COVID-19 I thought, ‘that's fantastic.’ And the fact they were moving so quickly was something that I found positive,” the mayor said. “Then when I heard more about the organization, and particularly some of the things Reverend Graham has said, it was very troubling to me.”

The mayor said that the group has pledged to serve patients in a manner “truly consistent with the values and the laws of New York City,” and that he spoke personally to Mt. Sinai CEO, Dr. Ken Davis, who assured him that the hospital has a written agreement with Samaritan’s Purse.

“I'm very concerned to make sure this is done right, but if it is done right, of course we need all the help we can get,” de Blasio said.

Additional help has been coming to New York City in the form of nurses—over 500 arrived last week, and the mayor said 1,000 more were coming next week.

The mayor also announced the deaths of two Department of Correction workers from COVID-19: Hunter O'Kelly Rodriguez, who the mayor categorized as a “young IT worker,” and an unnamed investigator who had worked for the city for more than 20 years. “Everyone's feeling these losses right now,” de Blasio said.

Regarding the firing of an Amazon warehouse employee who was involved with organizing a strike over employee protections, the mayor said the Human Rights Commission was investigating (more on that here).

Alternate side parking is suspended for two weeks, until Tuesday April 14, 2020, and the mayor said that ten playgrounds would be closed because people failed to abide by social distancing measures there (you can read the list of closed playgrounds here.)

De Blasio said that he was more pleased with how the federal government was responding to the city's needs, and pointed to the fact that FEMA was sending another 250 ambulances to address a shortage, 135 of which are already here.

"This is really powerful. This shows how much the federal government is getting into gear," the mayor said.

The mayor also implored doctors offices, plastic surgeons, and dentists, to donate any spare ventilators to the city through this web portal. The city received 2,500 ventilators from the federal government, but anticipates needing another 15,000.

2:30 p.m. The New York State Department of Labor last week received over seven million calls from those seeking to file unemployment claims as a result of coronavirus-related shutdowns.

Typically, the office gets 50,000 calls a week, said Robert Mujica, the state budget director during Tuesday's press conference with Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

On Monday alone, 1.2 million people had called, he said.

As a result of the volume, the website has repeatedly crashed.

"I apologize for the pain," Cuomo said. "It must be infuriating to deal with."

He added that state officials were looking into fixing the tech problem, saying there were "hundreds of people" working on it.

The state has waived the seven-day waiting period for unemployment claims for those under quarantine or laid off as result of the virus. To spread out the applications, the Department of Labor has also introduced a new filing procedure based on the first letter of an applicant's last name. The agency said that filing later in the week will not delay payments or affect the date of an individual's claim.

1 p.m. Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday renewed his call for New Yorkers to show discipline and stay at home, only minutes after his younger brother and CNN anchor Christopher Cuomo revealed that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

"He is going to be fine. He’s young, in good shape, strong," Cuomo said during a press conference. But in what has become a series of comedic jabs between the brothers on television, he added, "Although not as strong as he thinks."

The 49-year-old is currently quarantining inside the basement of his home.

The governor used his brother's diagnosis to drive home a message he has been trying harder to hammer in recent days. Only two weeks ago, he said he chided the younger Cuomo for bringing their mother to his house because he was worried she was lonely living alone in her apartment.

"Stay at home," the governor said. "It’s not just about you."

"You can infect other people," he added.

As of Tuesday morning, New York state had 75,795 confirmed coronavirus cases, with at least 1,550 deaths. Over the last 24 hours, 332 people in the state died from the virus, an all-time high death toll in a single day.

One of those who died included a minor in New York City who had an underlying medical condition.

In addition to urging people to stay at home, the state is in the midst of ramping up its healthcare capacity. On Monday, state and hospital officials also began working a unified plan for all hospitals, public and private, that enable them to share resources and easily transfer patients between one another, depending on need.

According to five models the state is consulting, the apex of coronavirus hospitalizations is projected as occurring as soon as seven days to 21 days from now. The White House is expected to release on Tuesday the models administration members have been consulting.

One research center at the University of Washington that has been cited by the White House task force has projected that the demand for hospital care in New York state will reach its peak in eight days. The center is currently projecting that nearly 16,000 New Yorkers will die from the disease by early August.

The governor stressed that the estimates on the apex have varied broadly. Coming up with the right prediction is one of the most urgent issues facing government officials.

"That's the $64,000 question," Cuomo said.

U.S. Open Tennis Complex In Queens To Be Used As Hospital Site

11 a.m. New York City Emergency Management Department officials are looking at using the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for a 350-bed facility as a way of freeing up space at nearby hospitals expected to reach capacity in the coming weeks from coronavirus patients.

"We have conducted a site visit with state and federal partners and are looking to build a 350-bed facility at the location," said a city Emergency Management spokesman. "The site is likely to be non-Covid patients, and we will evaluate based on need."

The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center consists of several venues used for the U.S. Open tournament every summer. Arthur Ashe stadium, where the top matches are played, can seat more than 23,000 people.

City and state officials have been scouting for sites across each of the five boroughs. New York City is setting out to build a total hospital capacity of 60,000 beds by May—triple the existing numbers—to respond to the surge of coronavirus patients.

The tennis center’s Louis Armstrong Stadium will be turned into a commissary to create 25,000 meal packages a day, each containing six meals, for hospital workers in New York City and others who need them, the Wall Street Journal reports.

COVID-19 Spread Shows Signs of Slowing

In a sign that New York's social distancing measures may be working, the rate of new hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients has continued to show signs of slowing down: as of Monday, the rate is doubling every six days, a decline from doubling every two days earlier in March.

Over the last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo has pointed out this promising trend line, which for the time being, continues to creep up. Last Tuesday, the rate of hospitalization was doubling in less than five days.

On Monday, the New York Times reported on another piece of potentially positive data—drops in fever levels of Americans across most of the country.

Kinsa Health, a company which produces internet-connected thermometers and typically tracks flu patterns, has created a national map of fever temperatures. As of Wednesday, fevers have either remained steady or dropped across the country, with the exception of parts of New Mexico and Colorado and New Orleans.

In Manhattan, the percentage of those reporting fevers has gone down since March 17th, the week in which schools and bars and restaurants were closed. The fever levels continued to decline more steeply as Cuomo's stay-at-home "PAUSE" order took effect on March 22nd.

Kinsa Insights

It is important to note that neither of the two trends means that COVID-19 cases are declining. The number of cases and deaths are expected to peak in the coming week. Speaking on NBC Monday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he could see the outbreaks lasting through May.

"For the weeks ahead, it gets a lot worse before it gets better," he said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 38,087 confirmed coronavirus cases in New York City, with at least 914 deaths.

But the data does seem to show that distancing measures have been successful in slowing the spread of the virus.

The San Francisco company behind the mapping was originally dismissed, but it is finally getting attention from state health officials to distribute more thermometers.

“People need to know their sacrifices are helping,” Inder Singh, founder of Kinsa, told the Times.