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N.Y. Gov. Cuomo Reports A Drop In Number Of Coronavirus Deaths

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The nation's top doctor, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, has told the country to prepare for what he called the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives. The epicenter of this viral outbreak remains the state of New York, and Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that that state's hospitals are going to be brought to the breaking point in coming days. But Cuomo did confirm one bit of good news. Yesterday, for the first time, the state has seen the daily number of deaths decrease slightly compared to the previous day.

Elizabeth Kim is a senior editor and reporter with Gothamist and also our member station WNYC in New York City, and she has been following all of this. Elizabeth, thanks so much for being here.

ELIZABETH KIM: Thank you for having me.

GREENE: Just give us a sense, if you can, as this week starts, of how this crisis has deepened in the state of New York - the latest death toll and what else you know.

KIM: So as of Sunday, more than 4,000 people in the state have officially died from coronavirus. But the daily numbers have just been staggering. From Friday to Saturday, a total of 630 people died from this disease. The scary thing is we've not even reached the peak of cases yet.

GREENE: Do we have any idea when that peak might be?

KIM: Governor Cuomo has basically said that that is the big unknown here. The state is using several models, but they've predicted a really broad range of estimates on the apex. And it could be anywhere from several days from now to as long as three weeks. Sunday's drop was very interesting, and the governor did say that that could be an indication that the state has hit a plateau. But then again, it's just one day's worth of data, so it's really too soon to tell - which is why Governor Cuomo is scrambling to get as many ventilators, supplies and medical personnel as he can. What's clear now is that with all the cases that are piling up, it's going to be extremely difficult for the state to keep up with the demand.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANDREW CUOMO: We're literally going day to day with our supplies, with our staff, et cetera, which is counterintuitive and counteroperational for the entire health care system.

GREENE: So did the governor lay out any sort of plan to get more equipment and staff?

KIM: Over the weekend, the state had some good news in the form of a thousand ventilators that it is secured from China with the help of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. And the state of Oregon also donated 140 ventilators. But the state is still in a race against time to get more vents and more medical personnel. The governor said that he would issue an executive order to seize unused ventilators in the state. Many of them are in upstate hospitals, which haven't seen as severe an outbreak as the ones in the downstate region.

He's also done what other governors have done - he's basically pleading with the federal government to send more ventilators, more personal protective equipment and more staffing. He's also reiterated an idea that was first posed by the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, that the government should begin drafting health care workers to help states facing the highest number of cases. Basically, he's calling for a national deployment of medical and health care workers.

GREENE: All right. That is a picture from New York City and the state of New York from Elizabeth Kim. She's a senior editor and reporter with Gothamist and member station WNYC in New York. Thanks a lot.

KIM: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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