Updates: Coronavirus Digest

Thursday, April 30

Cuomo Suspending Overnight Subway Service

NYPD officers wake up sleeping passengers and direct them to the exits at the 207th Street A-train station, Thursday, April 30, 2020, in the Manhattan borough of New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Following multiple reports of homeless people camping out in subways cars and because of COVID-19,  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made an unprecedented announcement on Thursday. For the first time in its 115-year history, the New York City subway system will not offer 24/7 service. Beginning Sunday, the entire system will shut down between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. for what the governor called “aggressive” cleaning.

The New York Daily News reports the plan involves all 473 subway stations and 21 Staten Island Railway stations. Homeless people found on trains during off-hours will be escorted off and offered help from outreach workers. Cuomo said the goal is to provide essential workers with clean and safe travel conditions. It’s unclear how long the cleaning period will last.

Dozens of Bodies Found in U-Haul Trucks Outside Brooklyn Funeral Home

Workers move bodies to a refrigerated truck from the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

City officials are discussing the creation of a bereavement committee to increase communication between the city and funeral homes after 100 bodies reportedly were found in U-Haul trucks outside of a Brooklyn funeral home. Authorities arrived at the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services on Utica Avenue on Wednesday after receiving complaints of a foul odor.

Funeral homes are regulated by the state, but the mayor and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams want to find a way to prevent bodies from literally piling up outside of funeral homes.

“I have no idea how any funeral home could let this happen,” de Blasio said on Thursday. “The city does not have a direct relationship with funeral homes…It’s not an area we work with a lot, but we all have to work together to solve problems.”

ABC News reported that the two unrefrigerated trucks each had 50 bodies, some apparently there for weeks. No criminality is suspected but the funeral home faces possible summonses for improper handling of human remains. The bodies have been moved to refrigerated trucks. An investigation is ongoing.

Pence Dons a Mask

Vice President Mike Pence tours the General Motors/Ventec ventilator production facility with GM CEO and Chairman Mary Barra in Kokomo, Ind., Thursday, April 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

It’s not quite as amazing as a metric tonne of chicken poop (see yesterday’s digest), but it was a sight never before seen. Vice President Mike Pence wore a mask during his visit Thursday to a GM plant in Indiana where workers are making ventilators. Chief executive Mara Barra greeted the vice president and other senior Trump administration officials who tagged along for the tour.

The vice president was the target of withering criticism earlier this week after refusing to wear a mask during his visit to Mayo Clinic. He and Second Lady Karen Pence said masks only prevent the spread of disease and because the vice president gets tested regularly for coronavirus, a mask was not necessary. Regardless, Pence was technically in violation of the hospital’s policy requiring all visitors and workers to wear a mask, a policy the hospital says the vice president was informed of during his visit.

A Fond Farewell

This is the last update for the NY City Lens Coronavirus Digest, but it’s not the end of our reporting. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find more compelling stories from our talented team of journalists.

Wednesday, April 29

Mayor de Blasio Accused of Singling Out Jews

New York police officers and members of the Jewish Shorim neighborhood safety patrol instruct a crowd as hundreds of mourners gather in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, to observe a funeral for Rabbi Chaim Mertz, a Hasidic Orthodox leader whose death was reportedly tied to the new coronavirus. The stress of the coronavirus’ toll on the city’s Orthodox Jews was brought to the fore Wednesday after Mayor Bill de Blasio chastised “the Jewish community” following the breakup of the large funeral that flouted public health orders. (Todd Maisel via AP)

After  personally overseeing a  police break up of a crowd that had gathered in Williamsburg Tuesday night for a funeral of a leading rabbi, Mayor Bill de Blasio took to Twitter to warn the “Jewish community, and all communities,” to stop violating social distancing orders or risk arrest. The tweets sparked an outrage and accusations that his comments were anti-Semitic.

The mayor says he has no regrets and spoke “out of passion.”

A city councilman said the mayor was unfairly singling out a religious and ethnic group on the same day New Yorkers ignored social distancing to watch a military flyover in salute to healthcare workers.

The Times reports Tuesday night’s funeral was one of several larger gatherings in Jewish neighborhoods the city has broken up since stay-at-home orders went into effect to combat the spread of the pandemic. But earlier in the day, the mayor and wife Chirlane McCray were lambasted by Brooklynites for traveling to Prospect Par for a stroll in the warm, sunny weather—the very thing officials have been urging people not to do.

FDA to Fast Track Coronavirus Drug Treatment

FILE – In this March 16, 2020, file photo, a patient receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

The Food and Drug Administration is likely to issue an emergency approval for the experimental drug remdesivir to be used to treat coronavirus, reports The New York Times. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said early results in a federal trial for the drug were “very optimistic.” Word of the new treatment drove stocks up on a day the Commerce Department reported the worst quarterly contraction to the national GDP since the 2008 Great Recession. 

The Times, Bloomberg, and other publications  also reported that President Trump is pushing for a crash vaccine program, called “Operation Warp Speed,” despite warnings from medical officials. Public health experts say a rushed vaccine could undermine its effectiveness and even hurt or kill patients.

By the Numbers

Swedish City Uses Chicken Poop to Shoo Away Partygoers

Lund - Sweden“Lund – Sweden” by michaeljohnbutton is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Lund, Sweden is taking the term ‘party pooper’ to a new level. The Guardian reports officials in the university town plan to dump a metric tonne of chicken manure in the main park in hopes of preventing as many as 30,000 people from gathering there on Thursday.

The traditional festival Walpurgis Night is celebrated on the last day of April, but there is concern a huge gathering could make Lund a new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gustav Lundblad, the chairman of the town’s Environment Committee, tells the local newspaper that chicken poop is “a good initiative.” He adds, “We both get the opportunity to fertilize the lawns in the park and at the same time it will stink, and then it may not be so nice to sit and drink beer in the park.”

Tuesday, April 28

Food Supply Chain May Be Breaking Down Due to COVID-19

Hog farmer Mike Patterson’s animals, who have been put on a diet so they take longer to fatten up due to the supply chain disruptions caused by coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreaks, at his property in Kenyon, Minnesota, U.S. April 23, 2020. Picture taken April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi

Meat producers warned today that millions of pigs, chickens, and cattle will have to be euthanized due to the breakdown in the food supply chain. Reuters spoke to Al Van Beek, an Iowa farmer who said he ordered his employees to give his female pigs—called sows—injections that caused them to abort their piglets. Van Beek said he was forced to make the tough decision because he is running out of room for his livestock. The farmer warned he would have to start euthanizing animals if he can’t get them to market.

John Tyson, chairman of the meat producer behemoth Tyson Foods recently told CNBC that the food chain is “breaking down” due to COVID-19 outbreaks in meat producer plants. 

New York Hiring Thousands of Tracers

As the number of known COVID-19 cases in New York State nears 300,000, Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed a plan Tuesday to hire thousands of tracers to track down anybody who has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for the virus. The state will need 30 tracers for every 100,000 residents, meaning more than 5,800 tracers will be needed across the state.

Governor Cuomo also announced the creation of an advisory board to help guide the state’s reopening strategy.

“We’ve come up with a phased plan to re-open New York so every region in the state has the same opening template as we begin this process,” the governor said.

New Grading For Most NYC Students

An empty playground is seen at the Anderson School PS 334 during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

New York City is dropping traditional grading for all students below high school, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday. Instead, kindergarten through fifth-grade students will get marks that indicate if a student  “Meets Standards” or “Needs Improvement.” Middle schoolers will get have an additional evaluation of “Course In Progress” for students who need more time to finish schoolwork.

Many students do not have the technical capabilities to complete schoolwork, even though the city will have provided nearly a quarter of a million iPads to students by Thursday, de Blasio said. 

Fly Overs Draw Crowds

The Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds flew over New York City, Philadelphia, and Trenton, New Jersey, on Tuesday as part of President Trump’s Operation America Strong as a thank you to essential workers.

“We’re excited to fly over cities across America as our way of saying thanks to the healthcare workers, first responders, and all the people who selflessly run into the breach working to keep America strong,” the top commanders of both military branches said in a joint statement over the weekend.

While exciting for many, the flyover also appeared to encourage crowds of people to ignore social distancing and pack together along waterfronts and in parks to see the spectacle. 

Monday, April 27

SBA Website Crashes On Emergency Aid Lenders

The Small Business Administration’s computer system for loan applications crashed less than an hour after the agency started taking requests for $310 billion in emergency aid to small businesses, the New York Times reports. The funding is meant to help companies keep their employees on their payrolls.  This was the second federal loan package offered by the government; the first’s $342 billion in funds ran out and left  hundreds of thousands of applicants without money.

The technical issue struck as the debate rages over whether the federal government should help states facing massive budget shortfalls due to lost tax revenue and spiking unemployment payments—all thanks to coronavirus.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the state has distributed roughly $3.1 billion in unemployment payments in less than two months. Cuomo also said the state is running a budget shortfall of $10 billion to $15 billion largely due to the pandemic. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said the city needs $7.4 billion from the federal government.

On Fox News this morning, White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Director Peter Navarro said he thinks Cuomo and de Blasio “forget there’s 49 other states in the union here that also need some help.” He added, “I can’t reach into my magic bag and throw a bunch of money at New York right now.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia and Tennessee Open Up Eateries , Others Extend Stay-at-Home Orders

A staff member holding balloons is pictured at a Waffle House, one of few corporate restaurant chain reopened for in-house dining after a shutdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Madison, Georgia, U.S., April 27, 2020. REUTERS/Maranie Staab

Restaurants are now allowed to offer dine-in service in Georgia even as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the state. Other non-essential businesses like barbershops and bowling alleys also are back up and running.

Georgia is not alone in its push to reopen despite alarming infection numbers. Tennessee also allowed restaurants to reopen for dine-in service today, a day after the infection rate jumped 5.2 percent in 24 hours, NPR reports.

While some governors loosen restrictions, others are holding steadfast to strict stay-at-home orders. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy extended the state’s emergency order indefinitely on Monday, as did New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for some parts of the state.

The differing strategies continue as President Trump continues to signal that he’d like to see more of the economy back open for business. On Monday, the president urged governors across the country to reopen public schools if it could be done safely.

Renowned ER Doctor Commits Suicide

Dr. Lorna M. Breen / Courtesy of Chris Leary Photography

A top emergency room doctor on the frontlines of New York City’s coronavirus epidemic committed suicide, authorities said today.

Dr. Lorna Breen, 49, the medical director of NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital’s emergency department, succumbed to self-inflicted injuries Sunday in Charlottesville, a spokesman for the local police department told the Daily News.

Her father, Dr. Phillip Breen, told the New York Times the number of coronavirus cases she treated and the conditions she saw overwhelmed her.

“Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was,” he said. “She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”

Anyone who is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Spike In Animal Adoptions

An adorable rescue puppy. (“Dogs At BCFFA” by Todd Money is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

It seems stay-at-home orders are causing a global run on rescue animals, the Los Angeles Times reported. It turns out lots of people are in need of companionship while stuck indoors. Plus, walking the dog is one of the few outdoor activities still allowed.

According to the newspaper, the ASPCA has managed to find foster homes for most of its animals and is working to increase awareness about the benefits of pet ownership. The Humane Society has also been reporting a surge in adoptions at local shelters for weeks. The group is hosting what it calls, “A virtual benefit for people, their pets and shelters impacted by COVID-19” on April 30 featuring Rob Thomas, Chris Daughtry, and Gavin DeGraw.

Sunday, April 26

Cuomo: New York’s “Horrific” Death Toll Continues to Decline

The daily number of COVID-19 related deaths in New York dropped below 400 for the first time this month. Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that 367 people with the virus had died over the past 24 hours. He called the number “horrific,” but it’s less than half of the state’s highest daily death toll.

Construction and manufacturing may be allowed to restart in less-affected parts of the state after his executive order shutting down the state expires on May 15, the governor said. The move would be phase one of the state’s plan to reopen. Phase two would include determining which businesses are essential to the communities they serve and the risk posed by reopening.

There are 288,076 COVID-19 cases across New York and 16,966 are dead.

Navy Provides Number of COVID-19 Cases on the USS Kidd

This May 18, 2011 photo made available by the U.S. Navy shows the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd in the Pacific Ocean. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Carla Ocampo/U.S. Navy via AP)

The Navy says 33 sailors have tested positive for COVID-19 aboard the USS Kidd destroyer. The update on Sunday comes two days after Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman revealed a sailor on the ship tested was medivacked to a medical facility in San Antonio, where he tested positive for the virus. The USS Kidd is deployed in the Gulf of Mexico and will return to port, where the ship will be cleaned and affected sailors treated, Hoffman said.

“As a result, the Navy has been using lessons learned from other cases,” Hoffman said during a press briefing on Friday. “They have flown a medical evaluation team, a specialized medical evaluation team onto the Kidd.”

The Kidd is the second Navy vessel to have a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak. The USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, stationed in Guam, was the first.

SNL Gives Dr. Fauci the Brad Pitt Treatment

Remember when Dr. Anthony Fauci jokingly said Brad Pitt should play him in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch? Saturday night, the good doctor got his wish.

SNL opened with Brad Pitt sitting behind a desk while dressed as the nation’s top infectious disease expert. In the skit, the Oscar-winning actor explains what President Trump “was trying to say” about coronavirus. It includes numerous clips of the president making unfounded and misleading statements about the virus and how to treat it, including when he said Thursday that injecting disinfectant “knocks it out in a minute.”

Pitt said until he—err, Fauci—is fired by the president, he will be there “putting out the facts for whoever’s listening. And when I hear things like the virus can be cured if everyone takes the Tide Pod challenge I’ll be there to say, ‘please don’t.’”

The skit ends with Pitt removing his wig and glasses in order to personally thank “the real Dr. Fauci” for his calm and clarity during the crisis. Pitt also offers his thanks to medical workers, first responders, and their families for being on the front line.

Saturday, April 25

Governor Cuomo Announces More Test Availability for New York

All essential workers in New York will soon be able to be tested for the coronavirus regardless of symptoms, Governor  Andrew Cuomo announced today. Employees on the frontlines of the battle against the pandemic will be able to walk into any of around 5,000 pharmacies throughout the state for a COVID-19 test, the result of an executive order signed by Cuomo. Before easing the stay-at-home order, Cuomo said testing would need to be expanded.

By the Numbers

President Trump Says Daily Briefings “Not Worth the Time & Effort”

In a Tweet this evening, President Trump indicated his displeasure with daily press briefings of the White House Coronavirus Task Force:

Following Thursday’s briefing, during which the president suggested cleaning agents could be used internally to clean the body, some within Trump’s inner circle reportedly have advised him to cut down on his briefings due to the negative impact they are having on the public’s perception of him, Axios reported. The choice to continue or end the conferences, however, remains with the president, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said today.

New Outbreaks at 31 Meat Plants

As the result of a lack of protective equipment and social distancing, even after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued guidelines on March 9, at least 31 plants for three meat processing companies—JBS USA, Tyson Foods and Smithfield Foods—have become coronavirus breeding grounds, the Washington Post reported. The meat industry has taken a major hit. Production has decreased around a quarter and led to more than 3,300 workers infected and 17 killed by the virus, the Post wrote.

A Tyson Fresh Meats plant, Thursday, April 23, 2020, in Logansport, Ind. The plant will temporarily close after several employees tested positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Death Count Worldwide Reaches New Landmark

The number of people to die of COVID-19 today broke 200,000 for the first time, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

Friday, April 24

Health Officials and Disinfectant Companies Warn Against Consumption of Cleaning Products

During Thursday’s press briefing, President Trump suggested that injecting disinfectants, such as bleach and isopropyl alcohol, could be used to get rid of coronavirus. “Is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs,” he said, adding that it would be “interesting” to look into. His comments drew wide criticism from health officials across the country,who warned against the misuse of disinfectants, triggered a wave of memes on social media, and prompted the Clorox Company and Reckitt Benckiser, the makers of Lysol, to issue statements warning consumers against consuming their cleaning products. Today, the president claimed that he made the comment sarcastically to trick journalists.

Memes popped up on the internet in response to the president’s comments.

FDA Warns Against the Unsupervised Use of Anti-Malarials for COVID-19

The two medications that have been touted by President Trump as crucial treatments against COVID-19, anti-malarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, should not be used by anyone not in a clinical trial or under close medical examination, the Food and Drug Administration warned today. The medications have been linked to potentially deadly side effects including serious heart rhythm problems.

U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Reach New Milestone

The United States COVID-19 death count exceeded 50,000 for the first time today, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

Three States Start to Lift Stay at Home Restrictions

The states of Oklahoma, Georgia and Alaska all began the early stages of opening their states, allowing for certain businesses to resume operation. In Alaska, restaurants were given the green light to start serving in the dining rooms again, Oklahoma hair salons are trimming again and Georgians can get their hair cut and bodies tattooed or massaged. In each state, guidance has been issued on how to ensure safety, but many worry that the lockdowns were eased prematurely.

Shannon Stafford styles the hair of Ebony Housey at her salon on Friday, April 24, 2020, in Savannah, Ga. (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)

By the Numbers

Thursday, April 23

Unemployment Numbers On the Rise

Unemployment insurance claims increased 4.4 million over the week ending April 18, the Department of Labor announced today. This marked the fifth week in a row of increased filings, bringing the total to 26.5 million since mid-March. These numbers suggest, “roughly 16.2 percent of the U.S. labor force is suffering from layoffs, furloughs or reduced hours during the coronavirus pandemic,” CNN Business reports.

House Passes New $484 billion Spending Package

The House voted 388-5 today in favor of a $484 billion spending bill that would reinvigorate the depleted small-business loan fund as well as increase spending on testing. Many members of Congress took to the floor wearing masks to cast their votes, the Washington Post reported. The bill passed in the Senate earlier this week and now moves to the desk of the president for his signature.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives on Capitol Hill, Thursday, April 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

World Trade Organization Reports Increase in Medical Supply Export Restrictions

More countries and customs territories have introduced restrictions or bans on the export of face masks, medications and ventilators, bringing the total worldwide to 80, the World Trade Organization reported today. With more restrictions on vital supplies, there is a fear that shortages will make it more difficult to fight the coronavirus.

Antibody Trial Show One in Five New Yorkers Test Positive for COVID-19

As many as 21 percent of New York City residents (2.7 million people) may have had COVID-19 according to the results of Governor Cuomo’s antibody trial, a random sample of around 3,000 people including 1,300 in New York City. This is a much higher figure than the 141,754 confirmed cases reported by the city health department as of 1:30 this afternoon. Some, however,  including the deputy commissioner of the NYC health department, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, question the reliability of antibody testing,  the New York Times reported.

Wednesday, April 22

2 Cats in New York Get COVID-19

Two cats in New York state are the first pets in America to test positive for COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today. The CDC stated they are not aware of pets posing a risk of spreading the disease to humans and they do not recommend widespread testing of animals.

Vaccine Doc Out For Doubting Merit of Drug Touted by Trump 

Dr. Rick Bright, the head of the health agency tasked with the development of a vaccine against coronavirus, claimed today that he was removed from his position and reassigned over his statements against funding “drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.” Bright has been particularly outspoken against the promotion of anti-malarial medications chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as wonder drugs, saying they should only be used on patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 under close medical observation, otherwise there could be “disastrous” results.

Hydroxychloroquine pills (AP Photo/John Locher)

Mayor’s Fireworks Announcement Bombs

The city will “find a way” to host the annual Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks in some way, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Twitter. Many New Yorkers responded with criticism, saying de Blasio had the wrong priorities. Some on Twitter responded that the money spent on fireworks could serve better purposes in this time of need.

By the Numbers

Monday, April 20

Negative U.S. Oil Price

The price of a barrel of crude oil went negative for the first time in history. The coronavirus pandemic has destroyed demand for energy and storage tanks are filled to the brim, as a result, producers are paying buyers to take oil off their hands.

No Events For New Yorkers in June

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced all parades and other city-permitted events will be canceled for the month of June as the city continues its fight against COVID-19. Canceled events include the Puerto Rican Day Parade, the Celebrate Israel parade, and the Pride Parade. This  would have marked Pride’s 50th anniversary  .

de Blasio canceled events

Mayor de Blasio announced city-permitted events will be canceled for the month of June

Fewer People are Dying

New York City is slowly making progress in saving its residents from the coronavirus. In Monday’s data release, 433 New Yorkers died because of COVID-19, that’s the lowest toll since April 2nd. Hospitalization and 911 medical calls have also dropped, according to the New York City Department of Health.

Sunday, April 19

COVID-19  by the Numbers 

Nearly 130,000 confirmed coronavirus cases has been recorded in New York City, with the confirmed death toll at 8,811, as of Sunday afternoon. There are also 4,429 additional cases of “probable” deaths, which means people who were never tested but have COVID-19 or an equivalent” listed on their death certificates. More than 1,400 volunteer medical staff have been dispatched to the city’s hospitals and nursing homes to join the fight.

 NYC vs Trump

Mayor Bill de Blasio called on President Trump to help his hometown recover from the coronavirus pandemic, during a press conference  Sunday morning,  “Are you telling NYC to drop dead?” the mayor asked.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said because of coronavirus’ economic impact, New York City public schools could face a 50-percent budget cut without federal aid.

Mayor Bill de Blasio during the press conference

Saturday, April 18

One World: Together at Home

One World: Together at Home, a global concert, coordinated by Lady Gala, along with the World Health Organization and Global Citizen aired Saturday. It started to stream at 2 p.m. EDT and lasted eight hours. Dozens of celebrities and musicians, including Lady Gaga, Usher, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Lizzo, Charlie Puth, David Beckham, John Legend, and many, many more, performed from their homes to celebrate and support healthcare workers fighting against the coronavirus pandemic. The evening broadcast was hosted by talk show hosts, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, and Stephen Colbert.

One World: Together At Home event banner

Daily Death Toll Reaches its Lowest Level in Two Weeks

In his daily coronavirus briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state has passed the plateau and starting to descend. New York’s daily toll of coronavirus deaths fell to 540, down from 630 a day earlier. However, Cuomo warned that the state isn’t ready yet to ease up on shutdowns of schools, businesses, and gatherings.

At his daily briefing in Albany, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo warned Saturday that even though the daily toll of coronavirus deaths hit its lowest point in two weeks on Saturday, the state is not yet ready to ease up on public gatherings. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via AP)

Friday April 17

Trump Sends Out Controversial Tweets Urging Some Governors to Open Up their States 

Trump tweeted in caps and said three states—Michigan, Virginia, and Minnesota— should be liberated from their stay-at-home orders, one day after he advised governors to make their own reopening plans. The three states mentioned all have Democratic governors. Many pundits saw Trump’s action as fomenting far-right protests.

Trump Tweets "liberate"

Screenshot of Trump’s Tweets

Decrease in NYC Hospitalizations and ICU Admissions 

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that COVID-19 hospitalization and ICU patients have declined. Specifically,  ICU patients have decreased from 887 on Tuesday to 874 on Wednesday, and the number of coronavirus positive patients admitted into hospitals went down from 386 on Tuesday to 326 on Wednesday. The positive test rate also went down from 55 percent on Tuesday to 46 percent  on Wednesday, according to city health department numbers.

de Blasio conference

Mayor de Blasio in the press conference

Ten New Test Sites

NYC will open five new test sites Monday in the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods. The five sites, one in each borough, will begin with 2,400 tests per week and will prioritize residents 65 and older with pre-existing conditions. The sites will be by appointment only and residents can call 311 to request testing. The other five testing sites will be conducting tests for health workers and essential workers.

Thursday, April 16

One More Month at Home

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo extended New York State’s “On Pause” status until May 15, in coordination with other states. The governor also announced that New York State hired the consultancy group McKinsey to develop a science-based plan for reopening the economy. In addition, New York City has canceled all public events in May, including SummerStage concerts in Central Park and the Brooklyn Half Marathon.


Governors “Call Their Own Shots”

President Trump wants normalcy back for the U.S. as soon as May 1st but acknowledged, at Thursday’s press briefing, that each state will make its own decision of when to restart shuttered activities. Trump also shared three-phase opening guidelines for states to use as a framework to make that decision.

Donald Trump Reopening Plan

President Donald Trump listens during a briefing about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, April 16, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon

17 Bodies Found at NJ Nursing Home

Police officers in Andover, New Jersey found 17 bodies piled in a small morgue intended to hold no more than four people. The nursing home, Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II, is one of the largest in the state and already had 68 recent deaths.

Virus Outbreak Nursing Home Deaths

Andover Township Police Department Chief Eric Danielson briefs the media at Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center in Andover Township, N.J., on Thursday April 16, 2020. Police responding to an anonymous tip found more than a dozen bodies Sunday and Monday at the nursing home in northwestern New Jersey, according to news reports. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

Jobless Claims and Stimulus Check

U.S. jobless claims exceeded 22 million during the coronavirus shutdown, with 5.2 million new unemployment claims filed last week. The record number of  unemployment claims came on the same day that the IRS sent $1,200 stimulus payments to about 80 million people; roughly 60 million people are still waiting. Use this IRS tool to check your payment status.

 

Wednesday, April 15

Cover Your Face

Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered that all New Yorkers must wear a face mask or some form of covering in public where social distancing is not possible—for example, when on more crowded public transit or walking on a busy sidewalk. Here’s a refresher video from the New York Times on how to make your own face mask.

Trump Halts Funding to WHO

Last night, President Trump ordered a halt to U.S. funding to the World Health Organization while his administration reviews the group’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump accused WHO of “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” despite his own attempts at downplaying the severity of the virus up till a few weeks ago.

President Donald Trump at Tuesday’s briefing. / Photo courtesy of Alex Brandon for AP

Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder who has donated much of his fortune to public health initiatives and warned that we were not prepared for a pandemic five years ago, was among those who criticized Trump’s decision.

City’s Death Toll Hits 10,000

New York City’s estimated COVID-19 death toll surpassed 10,000 yesterday as the city added 3,700 deaths to include people who have died outside a hospital and weren’t tested for the virus. Gov. Cuomo said at a press conference yesterday that daily statewide coronavirus fatalities are showing signs of leveling off, but “at a devastating level of pain and grief.” The numbers today passed 11,500.

MTA Promises to Provide Families of Victim Workers $500,000

As the number of workers who died from the coronavirus reached 59 deaths, the MTA has agreed to provide next of kin $500,000—ten times the amount usually paid, reports THE CITY. “What our frontline workers have done during this pandemic is nothing short of heroic and we believe this agreement is another crucial step in recognizing their sacrifice,” said MTA chairman Patrick Foye, who himself tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

Tuesday, April 14

Cuomo Cautions Against Reopening Too Hastily, But Offers Hope

Governor Andrew Cuomo warned against loosening social distancing restrictions too early Tuesday, as President Trump pushed for a reopening of the national economy in early May. “We could lose all the progress we made in one week,” he said.”  On Monday, Cuomo had offered a hopeful message to New Yorkers, who are currently in what is widely regarded as the national epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.  “I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart. And I believe we can now start on the path to normalcy,” Cuomo said.  He also announced that he is working with governors of other northeastern states, including Connecticut, New Jersey and Philadelphia, on a coordinated “reopening plan,” though he didn’t give a specific timetable. In the meantime, maintaining social distancing, he said, is key.

It is unclear when the normally busy area of Wall Street at the New York Stock Exchange will remain empty as governors consider when to reopen their states. / Photo courtesy of Ted Shaffrey for AP

NYC Adjusts  Its Numbers:  Death Toll now at 10,00

The city’s health department announced Tuesday afternoon that it was  adding more than 3,700 deaths to the total number of people lost to the coronavirus, people who had not tested positive but were presumed to have died from virus.  The new numbers pushed the city’s death higher, to more than 10,000.

NYC to Get 50,000 Coronavirus Tests a Week—and Possibly More

Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Tuesday morning press conference that Aria Diagnostics, a laboratory in Indiana, will provide the city with 50,000 COVID-19 tests per week starting next week. He also said that he hopes to boost local production by mobilizing New York businesses to add 50,000 more tests and more than a quarter-million hospital gowns per week. “New Yorkers are forging ahead to find new ways to fight back against the coronavirus,” he said.

Supreme Court to Conduct Oral Arguments by Phone

In a sign that everyone is adapting to the “new normal,” the U.S. Supreme Court announced Tuesday that—for the first time in history—it will hear nearly a dozen arguments in major cases by phone. Court hearings had been at a standstill as the coronavirus pandemic necessitated social distancing measures nationwide. The remote hearings will take place in May, and includes the legal fight for Trump’s financial records relating to alleged hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and another woman during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Why Six Feet?

This 3-D simulation on the New York Times shows us exactly why social distancing is so important.

Monday, April 13

Coronavirus a Big Threat to 9/11 Survivors and First Responders

Activists say that COVID-19 especially puts 9/11 survivors and first responders at risk, many of whom have respiratory weaknesses and other ailments linked to the toxic contaminants at the site, reported THE CITY. The federal initiative World Trade Center Health Program has not been monitoring or testing the virus’s impact on responders and survivors, and there is no exact data available. However, at least one of the WTC Health Program’s clinics says that, based on the number of cases at the clinic, there is a suggested lethality rate of nearly 6 percent for these at-risk individuals.

Swabs for COVID-19 Testing Running Out in “Days”

New York City is facing a “serious shortage” of the swabs used to take samples for coronavirus testing, according to an alert the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene sent to healthcare providers this weekend. The Gothamist reported that a spokesperson for the health department said the timeline for swabs running out would likely be “days, not weeks.” The news comes just days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the opening of five new testing facilities in New York City. The city is reaching out to medical supply manufacturers and labs in order to replenish supply, but options are limited as demand dramatically outweighs supply in the market.

Vials with samples taken for coronavirus testing. / Photo courtesy of Gerald Herbert for AP

Trump Says He’ll Decide When to Ease Guidelines, Not Governors

The president asserted today that he is the ultimate decision-maker when it comes to reopening the country, though some have questioned whether he has the authority to overrule the decisions of state governors.

Also today, Trump retweeted a call to #FireFauci, but the White House quickly issued a statement denying that they will be removing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has become the measured face of medical authority in the pandemic.

What New York Could’ve Learned from San Francisco

San Francisco’s mayor was criticized for overreacting and moving too quickly, but Mayor London Breed took early and decisive action in late February anyway—a move that many say spared the dense city from the worst of the pandemic. New York City, by comparison, floundered, and is now the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in America. The Atlantic explores what Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio could have done, and what lessons New York can take away from this.

 

 

Sunday, April 12

Nearly 2,000 Coronavirus Victims in New York Nursing Homes

Of the almost 10,000 COVID-19 deaths in New York state, approximately a fifth are of those who died resided in nursing homes, reported the New York Times. Seniors are one of the most vulnerable populations in the pandemic, and, despite efforts to prepare for the near-inevitable spread of the contagious virus, nursing homes are being overwhelmed by the outbreak. As of Friday, more than half of New York’s 613 licensed nursing homes reported cases of the coronavirus, with more than 4,000 positive cases.

Employers Now Must Provide Face Masks to Employees

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced  two new executive orders for New York Sunday: First, all employers are required to provide face masks to their employees who interact face-to-face with other people. The second order expands the parameters of who will be eligible for  antibody testing, which can detect those who have recovered from the coronavirus and built an immunity to it.

By the Numbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City Creates Jobs for New Yorkers

In more positive news, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a press conference this morning that the city is now hiring temporary positions for patient transport, clerical staff, and cleaning staff, and is planning to create thousands more jobs to help fight the coronavirus outbreak. The jobs are also intended to help those who have become unemployed as a result of the pandemic. To apply, New Yorkers can go to the city’s official website.

Easter Goes On, Virtually

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, right, leads an Easter Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, devoid of congregants, in New York, Sunday, April 12, 2020. Due to coronavirus concerns, no congregants were allowed to attend the Mass but it was broadcast live on a local TV station. / Photo courtesy of Seth Wenig for AP

Although the annual New York City Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival—which dates back to the 1870s—didn’t sweep down 5th Avenue this year due to social distancing measures, many New Yorkers were determined to still celebrate the extravagant costumes that typically blossom on the city’s streets every Easter. The Fifth Avenue Association asked would-be Easter parade participants to post their Easter hat pictures on Instagram using the hashtag #EasteronFifth. The best will be posted on their website on Tuesday, April 14 as a virtual parade. For inspiration, take a stroll down memory lane with this archive of photographs of past parades.

In other Easter news:  Cardinal Timothy Dolan led a televised Mass to an empty congregation at St. Patrick’s Cathedral this morning. The broadcast is expected to draw a large audience. “We miss you though,” said the cardinal. “We’d rather you be here physically.”

Saturday, April 11

NYC Schools to Stay Closed for the Rest of the Year—Or Not?

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Saturday morning that schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year, leaving more than 1.1 million students who will have to rely on remote teaching. “It is painful,” he said. “But it will save lives.” But, just a few hours later, Governor Andrew Cuomo dismissed the notion, saying that it’s not up to New York City’s mayor to decide if schools will stay shut.  “He didn’t close them, and he can’t reopen,” Cuomo said.

In either case, the mayor says that the city is making efforts to distribute devices like laptops and tablets to those who need them to assist with e-learning efforts and help address the deep-seated inequality that’s been exposed in the past three months since schools initially closed on March 16.

Some Covid-19 Victims Buried on Hart Island

As the number of coronavirus deaths spike and New York’s morgue and cemetery capacities shrink, the city is turning toward its potter’s field on Hart Island to bury its unclaimed dead. For the past 150 years, the island, located off the coast of the Bronx, has been a burial ground for New Yorkers with no known next of kin or whose families are unable to arrange funerals. In the past month since the pandemic began, the number of burials on Hart Island has increased five-fold, according to the Department of Corrections, which runs the island. It is unclear how many Covid-19 victims have been buried on Hart Island.

Workers wearing personal protective equipment bury bodies in a trench on Hart Island, Thursday, April 9, 2020, in the Bronx borough of New York / John Minchillo for AP

NYC’s Homeless Deaths Hit 20

At least 20 homeless New Yorkers have died from the coronavirus, the Daily News reported and around 350 homeless people were diagnosed with the virus as of Thursday, underscoring how one of the city’s most disenfranchised populations are left vulnerable to the infectious disease. Nearly a third of those diagnosed are  receiving care at hospitals.  At Saturday’s news conference, however, Mayor de Blasio said that the city was beginning to house homeless individuals who have tested positive for coronavirus or had symptoms in many of the city’s empty hotels. “We will use those hotels aggressively as a tool, in addition to the homeless shelters, to make sure those who need to be isolated are isolated,” de Blasio said.

Couchella!

If this were a normal year, thousands of people from all over the world would be flocking to the Californian deserts for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which typically takes place this weekend. This year, the outdoor festival has been postponed to October amid calls for social distancing during the global pandemic. But that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop entirely: the documentary “Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert” was just released on YouTube, which would-be festival goers can enjoy from their couch.

Friday, April 10

Five New Testing Facilities To Open in NYC

In a continuing effort to fight the coronavirus outbreak in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the opening of five new testing facilities in the city Thursday, bringing the total to nine sites in the state. The new sites are located primarily in communities with large minority populations, which are the hardest hit by the virus, as shown by preliminary data released by the city. Today, a drive-through mobile testing site opened in the Sears parking lot in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Additional sites will open next week in the South Bronx, Jamaica, Queens, and Brownsville, Brooklyn.

Number of I.C.U. Patients Fall for the First Time

Today marked the first time the number of NYC coronavirus patients in intensive-care units fell, according to Gov. Cuomo. Though the drop was small—17 fewer people from Thursday to Friday—and the statistic is accompanied by a harrowing 777 deaths since the day before, it’s an important data point indicating that the curve is finally flattening. The governor warned that this does not change social distancing rules or other government regulations. Testing, he also said, was key. “I don’t want a second wave,” he said. “I don’t want a third wave. I don’t want a one-and-a-half wave. I want this to be it.”

A New York State of Mind

Feeling stressed, down or anxious? Headspace, a wellness app, has recently launched free meditation and mindfulness exercises to help New Yorkers achieve a calmer, more restful state of mind.

Thursday, April 9

Highest Daily Death Toll Yet, but New York Hospitalizations Continue to Decrease

New York recorded yet another milestone: the highest daily death toll from the coronavirus with 799 deaths.  It was the third day in a row a new record was set.  However,  from Wednesday to Thursday, the number of hospitalizations increased by only 1 percent, or by 200 people, to 18,279. That’s an encouraging sign, said the governor.  If this trend continues, it will mean that the apex has been reached.  In case you missed the governor’s briefing, watch it here

The MTA Takes a Hit

Forty-one workers for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)  have died from the coronavirus, according to the MTA.  To prevent the virus from spreading among its 74,000 employees, the MTA said it was going to begin dispatching medical teams to check the temperatures of workers when they show up at work.

 

White House Precautions

The White House announced a decision to conduct a rapid coronavirus test on all journalists in attendance to President Trump’s daily briefing.  The decision came after a reporter, who was in the building earlier this week, became sick. Each journalist will be tested in a vacant office and receive results before the briefing.  

In other White House news:  First Lady, Melanie Trump posted a video on Twitter where she recommended that Americans wear cloth face coverings when in public places. President Trump has told reporters that he would not opt to wear one.  

Wednesday, April 8

Highest Daily Death Toll But the Curve is Flattening

New York witnessed 779 deaths on Tuesday, the highest single day death toll on Tuesday, exceeding Monday’s toll, which had also set a record for this pandemic. But despite the sobering news, Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted that other numbers, like hospitalizations, are showing that the curve of this crisis is starting to flatten and speculated it was because New Yorkers were observing social distancing.  But he added a quick warning. “If we stop what we are doing, you will see that curve change,” Cuomo said. 
 
The Numbers Reveal Racial and Ethnic Disparities
The coronavirus does not discriminate in who it attacks, but the numbers are revealing some troubling trends:  more Blacks and Hispanic New Yorkers  are dying at higher rates.

“There are clear inequalities, clear disparities in how this disease is affecting the people of our city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during his daily briefing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deaths at Home Not Reflected in the Numbers

City and state data show that more than 6,000 people have died from the virus.  But the mayor is worried that these numbers understate the number of deaths by as many as 100 to 200 day .  The reason:  these people, who have tested positive, have died at home.   “This used to be a very, very rare thing in New York City,”  the mayor said.

Political Fallout

The coronavirus is continuing to wreak havoc on the political scene.  On Wednesday, the New Jersey primary was postponed until July 7 and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders announced that he would be ending his presidential campaign.

Dog Lovers Take Note

The city closed down dog runs in the city’s parks two days ago.  But this morning, the city felt compelled to send out an alert again, reminding pet owners that they had done so. The reason: reports that dog owners weren’t practicing social distancing.

Tuesday, April 7

New York’s Numbers Start to Plateau, Says Cuomo 

Even though the state experienced its highest one day death total on Monday, the numbers continue to plateau, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.  Since Monday, 731 people have died in the state, bringing the total to 5,489, 2,738 of those in New York City.   Hospitalizations continue on a downward trend, increasing only four percent on April 6— the fourth straight day that the number of new hospitalizations has declined.  Watch the governor’s briefing if you missed it.

While New York City’s situation may be stabilizing a little, new hot spots are developing in New Jersey, where more than 44,000 positive cases have been confirmed, and in Nassau and Suffolk counties in Long Island.

Mayor De Blasio Pulls the Plug on Open-Space Pilot Program

About two weeks ago the city banned car traffic on several streets in the city for multiple blocks so residents could exercise in the open air and maintain social distancing more easily than in city parks. No more.  Mayor Bill de Blasio announced  that it has ended the pilot program.  The reason:  NYPD resources required to maintain it are strained and the city says it can’t provide staffing.

At the same time, the city is asking residents to wear face coverings, and the mayor himself made an appearance Tuesday morning wearing a bandana across his face.

Anti-virals Made in Japan are Being Tested in Massachusetts

Three Massachusetts hospitals have received approval by the Federal Drug Administration to launch the first U.S. clinical trial of a Japanese antiviral flu drug, favipiravir, that could be used to treat COVID-19. The drug that was deemed effective after two trials in China, will run trial across three sites in Massachusetts, involving 50 to 60 patients.

Monday, April 6

Deaths in Decline, But Cuomo Warns We Still Need to Stay Home

Deaths due to COVID-19 are seemingly on the decline in New York state , Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during his morning briefing. The data showed that 265 people died on Sunday, April 6, up slightly from the 219 deaths on the day before.  But the deaths over the two days did not surpass the 387 deaths on Friday. But the governor warned New Yorkers to not let their guard down and continue to stay home. 

“We get reckless,” Mr. Cuomo said at his daily news briefing, “you will see these numbers go up again.”

Trouble Across the Pond

The prime minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 27, was moved to the ICU Monday.  News of his hospitalization broke on Sunday soon after Queen Elizabeth 2 delivered a televised message to the British public, her fourth such address ever. The United Kingdom reported 5,900 new cases on Sunday, its highest yet, while the continent of Europe saw its first decrease in new infection rates. 

New York State Cancels Regents Exam

New York high school students got news that may have come to a relief to some of them: the Regents exams scheduled for June will be cancelled due to the coronavirus.  To graduate, students in New York’s public high schools are required to pass five exams. For now, the August round of examinations is still on the calendar.

Sunday, April 5

A Silver Lining in the Stats? 

Every morning Gov. Andrew Cuomo leads a somber briefing, giving New Yorkers an update on the spread of the coronavirus.  This morning at the briefing,  he had some possibly good news:  the numbers showed the first decline in the daily number of deaths.  According to the governor, the virus claimed 594 lives on Saturday, 36 fewer fatalities than the day before. 

The significance of these numbers? “It’s too early to tell,” Cuomo said. 

The governor also noted that the rate of hospital discharges has increased from 1,592 to 1,700 and the number of hospitalized New Yorkers has dropped from 1,094 to 574.  ICU admissions are also down.

Despite the reassuring news, Cuomo said the apex of the crisis may still be 7 days away.

The Javits Center To Be Used for COVID-19 Patients

President Donald Trump approved a request from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday to use the Javits New York Medical Station for COVID-19 patients and add 1,000 more beds.  The conference center was converted into a medical hospital station with 1,000 beds in less than a week.  Gov. Cuomo stressed the need to adjust the patient load among all hospitals.  “We are literally going day to day with our supplies and staff,” Gov. Cuomo said.  As of Saturday night, JNYMS had 40 patients.

A Tiger Caught the Virus at the Bronx Zoo

Tigers have been on the minds of millions of Americans who have been indulging in the Tiger King series during the stay-at-home order, but on Sunday morning, a new tiger story stole headlines.  A four-year-old female tiger named Nadia at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19.   Nadia, two other tigers, and three African lions were tested after the cats developed a dry cough. According to a  statement,  by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories, “public health officials believe that these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus.”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, April 4

Coming to the Rescue with Ventilators: Oregon, China

At his daily briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that the government of China was facilitating a donation of 1,000 ventilators from Nets owner Joe Tsai and his wife Clara Wu Tsai. He also gave a nod to the state of Oregon that loaned New York another 140.

“This is a big deal and it’s going to make a significant difference for us,” the governor said.

The governor also revealed that the NBA, the Knicks, and the Nets, in collaboration with the Chinese consul general, were going to donate one million surgical masks to the city’s essential workers.

The governor warned the peak of the epidemic was still days away.  “Nobody can tell you the number at the top of the mountain,” Gov. Cuomo said, but he estimated that the peak is “in the seven-day range.”

Palm Sunday to Go Virtual This Year

Christians around the world will celebrate Palm Sunday on April 5, but many services this year will be virtual with the faithful watching from home . This year’s service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, will be streamed online and televised live on Channel 7 Eyewitness news.  The service begins at 10 a.m.

Friday, April 3

City Sends Emergency Alert Seeking Volunteer Healthcare Workers

About 20 minutes after 5 p.m. Friday afternoon, New Yorkers received an alarming alert on their cell phones.  The city was looking for volunteer licensed healthcare workers to support facilities in need.  The latest numbers, as of 5 p.m.: 56,289 cases, 11,739 hospitalizations, and 1,867 deaths.

All Americans Should Wear Masks In Public

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that Americans should start wearing masks and face coverings when they go outside, stressing that these should be cloth masks and not the medical grade masks sorely needed by health professionals in hospitals across the country.

(Christina Hunter via AP)

“You could spread COVID-19 even if you do not feel sick. The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected,” says the CDC website.

During a press conference today, President Trump said that mask use is voluntary and that he will not be donning one anytime soon. “I don’t see it for myself,” said the president.

Here’s video teaching how to make masks at home:

Or turn your boxer briefs into a cool balaclava:

 

Here are some ideas for a weekend in quarantine from The Atlantic.

By the Numbers

Thursday, April 2

(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

New Yorkers Told to Wear Face Coverings

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference Thursday that all New Yorkers should start wearing “face coverings” when they go outside. “You can create a face covering with anything you have at home right now, a piece of cloth,” he said. “That’s what we want you to do. Something homemade, not something professional.”

The announcement came in response to a CDC study released Wednesday, which identified cases of pre-symptomatic transmission. The White House is also expected to announce new guidelines for face mask use soon.

Unemployment Claims Soar

The Labor Department reported that 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week. Before the pandemic, the weekly record for unemployment benefit applications was 695,000, in 1982.

“What usually takes months or quarters to happen in a recession is happening in a matter of weeks,” Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told the New York Times.

In total, 10 million people have lost their jobs because of the crisis so far.

Quarantine at Riker’s Island

The Board of Correction, the city agency responsible for overseeing the welfare of detainees and correctional officers, reported last night that 42 percent of the city’s jail population is under quarantine. Nearly 2,000 detainees are locked in their housing units and may have been exposed to the virus. Another 184 have tested positive, along with 169 Department of Correction staff members and 36 health care workers who work in the city’s jails.

By the Numbers

Wednesday, April 1

City May Run Out of Ventilators By Sunday

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday afternoon that hospitals in the city will soon run out of ventilators to care for patients. Another 400 ventilators will be needed by Sunday, he said,  if supply is to keep up with demand. The mayor said he hoped to receive the ventilators from either the state or federal stockpile.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered 17,000 ventilators from China, but those may arrive after the pandemic reaches its peak in New York.

New York Death Toll Tops 1,000

City officials confirmed Wednesday that 1,096 New Yorkers have died of the virus. New York is preparing for the toughest week yet of the pandemic, as more than 500 paramedics and emergency medical technicians, 2,000 nurses and 250 ambulances are heading to the city. Makeshift hospitals have been set up in Central Park and the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens.

Governor Cuomo Closes Playgrounds

The city’s playgrounds will close because New Yorkers are not following social distancing guidelines, the governor announced Wednesday.

“I warned people that if they didn’t stop the density and the games in the playgrounds — you can’t play basketball, you can’t come in contact with each other — that we would close the playgrounds,” he said.

City parks will remain open for exercise.

By the Numbers

And a repeat performance from last week,  where Gov. Cuomo asked celebrities from New York to help him get the word out to New Yorkers to “Stay Home.”

 

Tuesday, March 31

White House Releases Grim Projections

During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, top government scientists presented new data estimating that the virus could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans.

“We are going to go through a very tough two weeks,” President Trump said.

US Open Venue to Become Makeshift Hospital

A makeshift hospital is being built in the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, in Queens. The 350-bed facility will be an overflow space for non-COVID-19 patients from Elmhurst Hospital, which has seen a sharp increase in cases of the virus in recent days.

“Elmhurst has borne the brunt. The staff is amazing. But they need relief,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference at the stadium this afternoon.

NYPD Officers Strictly Enforcing Social Distancing

Officers continue to visit restaurants, bars, supermarkets, salons and public spaces to remind individuals of the ban on congregating in public spaces and to practice social distancing. Businesses and individuals who fail to follow guidelines can now be fined as of this week. Individuals may be fined up to $500. The NYPD says officers visited 5,000-7,000 restaurants and bars and between 1,500-2,600 supermarkets each day this week to ensure businesses were complying with social distancing guidelines.

By the Numbers:

75,795 – The number of confirmed cases is New York State up to today.

1,096 – The number of people who have died in the New York City, making up 71 percent of total deaths in the state.

31 – The average percentage by which deaths have been increasing in the state everyday this week.

 

Monday, March 30th

Makeshift Hospital in Central Park

Over the weekend, volunteers set up white medical tents along Central Park’s East Meadow lawn. The makeshift respiratory care unit will provide 68 medical beds and will take patients from Mount Sinai hospitals, with priority given to patients from Brooklyn and Queens. The initiative is a partnership between Mount Sinai and the non-profit Samaritan’s Purse.

USNS Comfort Arrives in New York City

The navy hospital ship USNS Comfort arrived in the city at 10 a.m. this morning. The ship will not take COVID-19 patients but will provide an additional 1,000 beds to the city’s healthcare system, which is fast approaching capacity. As New York hospitals are flooded with people being treated for the novel coronavirus, city officials estimate there won’t be enough beds in the existing healthcare infrastructure to treat patients suffering from other ailments.

“We understand that the people of New York have requested our assistance and we are ready to respond,” Captain Patrick Amersbach, commanding officer of the medical treatment facility aboard the Comfort, told NYCityLens.

Coronavirus in NY Jails and Prisons

The virus is spreading rapidly in local, state and federal correctional facilities. Already, 167 inmates and 137 staff members have tested positive in New York City jails. More than 800 inmates are being held in isolation or in quarantined groups, according to the president of the correctional officers union. To ease the risk of further infection, about 650 prisoners have been released, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday. This brought the city’s prison population below 5,000 for the first time since 1949.

Social distancing is near impossible in crowded correctional facilities, and essential hygiene supplies like hand sanitizers are lacking.

By the Numbers: 

500 – The daily death toll from the cornonavirus exceeded 500 for the first time in the United States on Monday. Nearly half the deaths happened in New York City, according to data compiled by the Washington Post.

1,448 – The number of people between the ages of 18 and 44 in the city that have been hospitalized with coronavirus.  That total makes up 9 of percent of people within the age group who have tested positive.

2,650 – The number of hospitalizations in Queens as of March 30. Queens has had the highest number of hospitalizations among the five boroughs, with the Bronx following behind at 1,880 hospitalizations.

 
Saturday, March 28:  
 
Quarantine or War? 
As New Yorkers prepared for dinner Saturday afternoon, word got out that President Trump was considering putting the city, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, under an “enforceable quarantine.”   What that meant exactly for millions of New Yorkers  who are already staying at home was unclear.
 
Even Gov. Andrew Cuomo was taken by surprise.  In an interview with CNN later, he said he didn’t believe a quarantine was legally possible.  “It would be chaos and mayhem,” Cuomo told CNN’s Ana Cabrera.  “This would be a federal declaration of war on states.”
 
Clap to Show Your Thanks 
For the last two nights, New Yorkers across the city have opened windows and stepped out on balconies, stoops, and fire escapes to show their support for the city’s essential workers with applause and cheers.
 
Stats in brief:   Over 150 New Yorkers died from the virus on Saturday alone, according to the Dept. of Health and Medical Hygiene. The same data shows that Queens has the highest number of people testing positive with 9,831 cases.   Brooklyn follows with 8,129 cases, the Bronx with 5,752, and 5,237 in Manhattan.  Staten Island has 1,781 cases.  The Bronx has the highest percentage of coranvirus-related hospitalizations with 25 percent of reported cases and Queens, with 22 percent, is close behind.  City officials are forecasting that the apex of the pandemic is still 14 to 21 days away.
 

 

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