ALBANY — The state’s test to screen for the presence of coronavirus antibodies is waiting for federal approval as New York had its largest single-day increase in virus-related deaths, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.
New York’s COVID-19 death toll climbed to 5,489 by Tuesday afternoon, up from 4,758 Monday, which was the greatest uptick to date of virus-related deaths in a 24-hour period.
A total of 562 New Yorkers died from COVID-19 on Thursday with a surge to 630 fatalities Friday. On Saturday, 594 people died in the state to 599 Sunday. Fatalities reached a daily high point Monday at 731 virus-related deaths.
“The longer you are on a ventilator, the less likely you are to come off the ventilator,” Cuomo said Tuesday during a COVID-19 briefing in the state Capitol. “That’s why you are seeing the number of deaths increase.”
With 340,058 people tested and 138,863 positive cases, just over 12.6% of positively infected New Yorkers are hospitalized, or 17,493 people with 4,593 patients in intensive care. The state had discharged 13,366 patients by the end of Monday.
Hospitalization rates increased Monday with 529 new COVID-19 patients statewide after a two-day decline. State officials project downstate has hit its projected peak of virus hospitalizations. State agencies have a lag in declining hospitalizations and the death rate, the governor said.
Daily ICU admissions decreased for the third straight day with 250 on Saturday, 128 Sunday and 89 on Monday.
The state Department of Health approved an antibody test, which is waiting on federal approval. The procedure tests for the presence of antibodies that show a person was previously infected with COVID-19, recovered and is no longer contagious.
There is no evidence to suggest a person can become reinfected with the virus a second time, state Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said.
“Usually when you get a virus and develop antibodies you don’t get it again,” Zucker said Tuesday. “There was one report out of China that suggested that maybe there were some cases, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.”
The state has rapid COVID-19 tests, which deliver results within 15 minutes, for 50,000 people, Cuomo said Tuesday.
“No private company has the capacity to bring those to scale,” the governor said, referring to the 19 million New York residents.
The state is asking all companies or businesses that can help increase New York’s rapid testing capacity call 212-803-3100 or email COVID19supplies@esd.ny.gov.
The state partnered with Google and increased capacity from four to 50 servers and 300 additional employees addressing claims to ease the website and phone jams within the state Department of Labor for people to file for unemployment benefits. The hotline is open seven days a week.
“You will get your benefits back to the date of your unemployment even if there’s a lag to get signed up for the benefits,” Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa said.
Widespread availability of antibody and rapid tests are critical to restart the state economy, Cuomo said, but that cannot happen in New York without federal assistance.
“Every state budget has been decimated by this situation,” the governor said. “People aren’t working, not paying income taxes...Our budget, our income, just collapsed. It must be a federal stimulus bill. There’s no other way to do this.”
The House of Representatives passed a historic $2.2 trillion economic relief package March 27 which U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., both said will give the state about $5 billion.
The bill was woefully inadequate, Cuomo said Tuesday, and the state government will receive less than anticipated under the measure, but did not clarify how much.
“The next federal legislation must remedy previous inequities,” Cuomo said.
The state plans to develop a tri-state approach with New Jersey and Connecticut to restart the economy and life after the pandemic.
“We’re not there yet,” Cuomo said. “This is not a light switch we can flip one day and everything goes back to normal. How we restart our economy is going to come down to how good we are with testing.”
The state has up to 90,000 available hospital beds from its usual 53,000, together with temporary hospital Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, which has 2,500 beds for COVID-19 patients and U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort.
President Donald Trump approved Cuomo’s request for the Comfort, docked at Pier 88 in the New York Harbor, be converted to accept COVID-19 patients. The 1,000-bed facility was originally reserved for non-COVID-19 patient overflow. The ship’s capacity will reduce to 500 beds, Cuomo said, because COVID-19 patients need more space.
“We have more than enough beds available,” Cuomo said.
Of personal protective equipment and ventilators, the governor added: “Every hospital has what they need to date.”
The state hired 7,000 health care workers from the pool of potential employees to relieve New York’s hospital staff.
New York City and downstate counties remain the state’s epicenter of the virus outbreak, with rolling apexes expected to hit the rest of New York in the coming weeks. The state had its first positive COVID-19 case 37 days ago.
“My health is in your hands,” Cuomo said. “Your health is in my hands. Health care workers and first responders and all those people who have to show up to work to keep society functioning — we are responsible to them, also.
“Let’s not get complacent,” he said. “We have to stay disciplined, stay smart and stay safe. We do that by staying at home.”
Columbia County had 72 positive cases of the virus as of Tuesday afternoon. Four people have died and four remain hospitalized; one patient is in intensive care. Eighty people are under mandatory quarantine and 21 under precautionary quarantine. Eight residents have suspected cases, but have not been tested.
Greene County has 27 cumulative positive cases of COVID-19 in Windham, Durham, Greenville, Hunter, Cairo, Catskill, Athens, Coxsackie and Halcott as of Monday afternoon. Three people are hospitalized with the virus, with the other cases recovering at home. Twelve cases have been cleared and discharged, with 15 remaining active cases, according to Greene County Public Health. The county has 79 people under precautionary quarantine who are self-monitoring for possible exposure.
The state’s most dense virus hot spots have remained downstate and in New York City. Positive cases of the virus have been detected in 57 counties in the state, including the city, with 76,876 cases in New York City, 16,610 in Nassau County, 14,804 cases in Westchester County, 14,517 cases in Suffolk County, 5,990 in Rockland County and 309 in Albany County.
To see the complete county breakdown of positive COVID-19 cases and deaths statewide, view the COVID-19 map and tracker at hudsonvalley360.com/site/covid19.html