This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Saturday, April 4th, 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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"This Will Be Probably The Toughest Week," President Says Of Upcoming Days
Calling the coronavirus pandemic a "horrible situation," President Donald Trump said on Saturday, "We're enduring this together and we will soon prevail together."
He continued, "This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week, and there will be a lot of death, unfortunately, but a lot less death than if this wasn't done but there will be death," referring to social distancing measures.
There are over 305,000 coronavirus cases in the United States, with 8,291 deaths.
Vice President Mike Pence, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health appeared with the president during the briefing. Trump addressed the gravity of the situation, saying "We have many Italys all over"—referring to the various "hotspots" of outbreaks, such as New York City, Detroit, and Louisiana—but also, jokingly, said he would try the unproven hydroxychloroquine, which he has repeatedly mentioned as a possible treatment (Fauci has also repeatedly cautioned there are no studies that say hydroxychloroquine or any other drugs are "safe and effective").
The president also expressed frustration at Governor Cuomo, saying that the donation of 1,000 ventilators that New York received are from "friends" of his and that the governor is not "gracious."
Fauci and Birx reiterated that Americans should follow social distancing measures, with Birx imploring, "The next two weeks are extraordinarily important, I think you've heard from Dr. Fauci, from myself, from the President, from the Vice President, this is the moment to do everything you can on the Presidential guidelines. This is the moment not to be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy—doing everything you can keeping your family and friends safe. And that means everyone doing the six-feet distancing, washing your hands."
Still, Trump expressed frustration with the measures. "We have to open our country again," he said. "We have to open our country again. We don't want to be doing this for months and months and months."
Cuomo Announces 1,000 Ventilators Are Coming From China, 140 From Oregon
Calling it "really good news," Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed that 1,000 ventilators would be arriving from China at JFK Airport on Saturday.
The ventilators are a donation from Joseph and Clara Tsai and Jack Ma. Joseph Tsai and Ma co-founded Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce retailer; Tsai also owns the Brooklyn Nets. Cuomo also said during his Saturday briefing that the donation was facilitated by the Chinese government, and thanked all parties for helping.
The governor had outlined how the state attempted to buy 17,000 ventilators from China. Even though they had contracts and paperwork, the state was unable to obtain the ventilators. "That order never came through," he said, expressing frustration that the only place where ventilators could be purchased was from China. "Longterm, we need to understand why we're in this situation [of not having other places to buy from]. There's a public health reason—we learned this the hard way—why we need the capacity in this country to do this."
Another shipment of 140 ventilators, this one from Oregon, will also be headed to New York. Cuomo thanked Governor Kate Brown for the unsolicited loan. He called Oregon's decision "kind and smart," and said New York will send 280 ventilators for Oregon when they face their peak of cases.
So far, NY State has tested 283,621 people, with 23,101 tested on Friday, a new record. There are now 113,704 coronavirus cases, statewide, with 15,905 currently hospitalized and 4,126 in the ICU. Over 10,000 people have been discharged.
There have been 3,565 deaths, a 21% increase over the prior day's count. Disturbingly, the NYC count, according to the state, is now 2,624 cases; the latest numbers from NYC, from Friday at 5 p.m., had 1,867 as the death toll. (We have reached out to the NYC Department of Health for comment.)
The spread of cases on Long Island is concerning, as Nassau and Suffolk counties' cases are increasing significantly. When asked if the rise in cases could be connected to city residents fleeing, the governor said, "We have no answer."
New York's "apex" of infections is expected in around seven days—the governor called it the "battle of the mountain." Cuomo felt pretty confident about the number of hospital beds, saying that there were around 75,000, after the hospitals increased their beds, and then about another 5,000 from the additional pop-up facilities. The Javits Center, which has 2,500 beds and will be used only for COVID-19 cases, "is the main federal assistance," Cuomo said. "That will be a significant relief valve."
Now the area of focus is again on sourcing ventilators and personal protective equipment. Notably, the federal stockpile of ventilators is only 10,000. "You go to war with what you have, not what you need," Cuomo said, and explained that while some more local or domestic manufacturers reached out to help, it's hard to say, " I need you to start making a million gowns [to be ready in] two weeks."
"I want this to be all over," Cuomo said, wishing we could "slide down the other side of the mountain." But he continued, "We just have to get through it... We will get to the other side of the mountain, and we will be the better for it."
At Least 11,739 Hospitalized In NYC
New York City updated its coronavirus statistics on Friday evening, revealing another grim record: During a 24-hour period between Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon, 305 people died from COVID-19. (Prior to the pandemic, on an average day, the city had about 158 deaths.)
The city's total deaths now number 1,867 so far. On Friday, the city's Medical Examiner's office confirmed the city morgue had quadrupled its capacity, utilizing dozens (49 are here; 27 are on the way) of refrigerator trucks that can hold around 40-45 bodies.
The city's statistics say that there are 56,289 confirmed cases, though numbers released by the state on Friday brought that number to 57,159, with 11,739 — or just over 20% — of people being hospitalized.
Queens continues to lead the city in cases, with 18,823; Brooklyn has 15,327; The Bronx, 10,765; Manhattan, 8,222; and Staten Island, 3,117.
Queens and Brooklyn are the boroughs with the largest populations, which explains some of why their cases are so high, but when you look at cases per 100,000 population in each borough, Queens and the Bronx have much higher infection rates.
Concerned that the city's communities of color are being disproportionately exposed to the virus, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has asked the de Blasio administration to turn over data breaking down cases by race.
As explained in our statistics post, "At the beginning of the outbreak, all boroughs had similar infection rates, but over time, Queens and the Bronx have pulled away from the other three boroughs. On April 3rd, Lombardy, Italy, would be about a 460 on this chart."
NYC Inmates, Correction Staff Will Get Face Masks
The city’s Department of Correction will now provide masks to all staff and inmates in the city’s jails, in light of the mayor’s recommendation that everyone in the general public wear a mask or face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As of Thursday, only inmates in certain housing areas exposed to the virus were provided masks. City officials said the Department of Correction previously provided masks to staff members who wanted them.
The more widespread distribution of masks comes as the infection spreads in the city’s jails. More than 350 inmates and staff have contracted coronavirus. Four Department of Correction staff members have died.
With Yasmeen Khan
98% Of ICU Patients At NewYork-Presbyterian / Columbia Are On Ventilators, Chief Of Surgery Says
Dr. Craig Smith, Chair of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center's Department of Surgery, has been sending daily messages to staff and faculty, which the hospital is sharing with the public. As Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterate how desperate the need for ventilators is, Smith's message on Friday offered some insights about how the hospital is handling things.
"This morning the NYP system has ~2,000 COVID+ inpatients. The number of patients in ICUs is hovering stubbornly at ~25%. At CUIMC that figure is ~30%, 98% of whom are on ventilators,"he wrote. "More distressing than the percentage of ventilated patients is the chronicity of the average patient’s illness. Even the surviving patients who’ve been extubated tended to stay on mechanical ventilation for about two weeks, and those who expire appear to be following a similar course. We are still too early in this onslaught to accurately calculate the mortality associated with mechanical ventilation, but even if we are blessed to learn that most survive, if every patient stays on a ventilator for two weeks the burden on our resources is enormous."
Smith continued, "Under these conditions, when we surge to 1,000 ICU beds we’ll be able to handle about 2,000 patients per month. If we could get each patient well in 5 days, we could handle about 6,000 patients per month."