What there is to know
- Nearly 34,000 people in the Tri-State region died from COVID-19, although officials admit that the actual toll is likely higher; other indicators such as infection rate and total hospitalizations continue to decline slowly
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to provide a key update on areas that may be able to reopen after the expiration of “PAUSE” on Friday; New Jersey closure order also expires after May 15
- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that he does not expect non-essential business to reopen in the city before June; he also announced that alternative side parking would resume for a week starting May 18
New York faces a pivotal week in its multi-month fight against the coronavirus, with a number of less affected regions rushing to meet Governor Andrew Cuomo’s demands to start reopening after the expiration of his PAUSE order Friday.
The governor is expected to provide a crucial update on the situation in each region on Monday regarding compliance with its reopening standards. The determination will be based on two main factors: the infection rate and the ability. Regions must demonstrate that they have controlled their infection rates and have established the hospital, screening, tracing, isolation and compliance capabilities to safely maintain their reopenings and manage any potential resurgence .
In a recent briefing, Cuomo divided the state into 10 regions, each classified according to seven key parameters related to these two key factors. At the time, less than a week ago, no region had achieved more than five of the seven measures. New York had encountered only three, while Long Island had only reached two.
Regions that meet the criteria can, after May 15, enter the first of four reopening phases, which includes construction and manufacturing activities. The second phase concerns retail trade, finance and professional services, while the third phase relates to catering and hospitality. Education and the arts / entertainment will be the last sectors to resume, said Cuomo.
It seems likely that parts of the north and west of the state are ready to reopen, but there are still 21 New York postal codes where COVID-19 infection and death rates are still far too high, including in the five boroughs of New York.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s three key indicators – new hospital admissions, current number of ICUs and percentage of people tested positive – all trended down on Monday, which he wants to see for at least 10 to 14 days before considering relaxing the restrictions. While the three fell on any given day, the city was unable to maintain the trend for consecutive days.
De Blasio said on Monday that he does not expect non-essential businesses to reopen in the city before June. He also announced that parking on the alternative sides would remain suspended until May 17. It will resume from May 18 to 24 for a citywide “sweep”, ending what may be the longest closure of its kind in the city’s history. It will then be suspended again from May 25 to June 7.
A virus without chronology
More than two months have passed since the first case was reported by New York officials. America is fighting a virus without chronology, which has turned into a more contagious strain since its appearance in China last year and continues to surprise the most elite scientists in the world with its mysterious adaptability.
Uncertainty has hindered progress to some extent. Asymptomatic people can transmit the virus; it is unclear how long the antibodies provide protection, if at all. It was once thought that the virus spared children. Now at least three New York children, including a 5-year-old New York boy, and up to two others may have died from a rare pediatric inflammatory syndrome related to COVID. Cuomo said the state has identified at least 85 children with the condition, while de Blasio said the city has seen at least 38 cases.
However, the worst of the crisis seems to be behind us. Cuomo said Friday “we are finally ahead of this virus”, his first such statement since the pandemic. The two most persistent measures are new hospitalizations and daily deaths.
Cuomo reported 572 new hospitalizations on Sunday. This is the lowest number since mid-March and a sign that the frustrating plateau of the 600s may change. At the same time, it added 226 new deaths, reflecting an average of the previous five days and matching the number reported on May 3.
On Sunday, New York State confirmed 21,478 deaths from the virus, including 14,611 from the five boroughs. The official death toll does not include the 5,178 probable deaths in New York. If included, the five boroughs alone would be on the verge of 20,000 deaths.
Retirement homes were the zero point for the national crisis. Cuomo unveiled a list of sweeping new regulations for New York retirement homes on Sunday. Those who fail to meet the new standards by May 15 risk losing their licenses.
New Jersey’s long-term care facilities have been hit harder than any other country in the country, accounting for more than half of the deaths in the state, which affected 9,255 people on Sunday. Connecticut reported 2,967 deaths.
More than half a million infections have been confirmed in the tri-state region; many more people have probably been infected but have never been tested. New York State has reported 335,395 cases of the virus to date, including nearly 190,000 in New York. New Jersey and Connecticut had 138,532 and 33,554 cases, respectively, according to the latest reports from their governors.
Nationally, at least 1.3 million people have been infected and more than 80,000 people have died. The economic and psychological costs have been catastrophic. The virus alone is expected to cost $ 35 billion, and Cuomo said Sunday schools, hospitals and local governments could face 20 percent budget cuts without a windfall from federal aid. The state has spent more than $ 5.5 billion on unemployment claims in the past two months, when tens of millions of Americans filed for unemployment for the first time.
Experts say the crisis will not really be “over” without a vaccine or effective treatment for the virus. Pharmaceutical companies and the federal government are working to speed up the development of a vaccine that some say could be ready for human trials this summer, although approval will likely take at least a year.
Gilead Sciences’ drug Remdesivir has shown promise in experimental treatment. The FDA has granted emergency use authorization for this drug when treating critically ill patients. Cuomo said Sunday that the federal government had given New York the green light to start using Remdesivir on 2,900 people in 15 hospitals in the coming weeks, with more doses to treat an additional 500 people.