The peak of New York’s outbreak of coronavirus may be hitting the state now, if not within the coming days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during his Monday afternoon press briefing.
The rate of coronavirus deaths within the state has been flat for two days and the rate of new hospitalizations, ICU admissions and intubations are down, which are “all good signs,” Cuomo said during his briefing. As of Monday, 4,758 people have died of coronavirus in New York State, up from 4,159 the day before.
Even though data suggests that the coronavirus outbreak is nearing its peak, Cuomo said that conclusions as to how that peak will play out cannot be made. It’s unclear whether outbreak numbers will quickly decrease or whether there will be more of a prolonged “plateau” effect where infection and death rates stay flat for an extended period of time.
A plateau effect could prove “problematic” for a New York healthcare system that is operating beyond its capacity, Cuomo said. The governor said that even if the outbreak is reaching its apex, social distancing measures are as important as ever to New York’s efforts to reduce the rate of coronavirus infections and stress on the hospital system.
“Now is not the time to play Frisbee with your friends in the park” Cuomo said Monday, stating that he heard reports of people crowding streets in New York City this weekend to take advantage of good weather. “Now is not the time to go to a funeral with 200 people.”
“You don’t have the right to risk someone else’s life,” Cuomo said, in reference to people violating social distancing rules.
The maximum fine for violating social distancing rules will be upgraded from $500 to $1,000 to encourage local governments to better enforce the measures, Cuomo announced Monday. New York State’s “PAUSE” order — an acronym for policies, assure, uniform, safety and everyone — which shuts down schools and other nonessential business is also being extended to April 29, Cuomo said.
Cuomo said there is “danger” in getting “overconfident” with New York’s new coronavirus projections, citing examples such as Hong Kong and South Korea where activities were resumed prematurely and infection numbers saw a resurgence.
Cuomo also announced Monday that he will request that the USNS Comfort hospital ship be converted into a facility to treat coronavirus patients during a planned afternoon call with President Donald Trump. The conversion would see the facility used similarly to the 2,500-bed hospital at the Javits Center, which was initially planned to treat non-coronavirus patients.