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Coronavirus Deaths Appear to Have Leveled Off, Indication That Apex Has Been Reached

Gov. Cuomo at April 6 briefing on the coronavirus (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

April 6, 2020 By Allie Griffin

The number of people who are being killed by the coronavirus each day across New York state appears to have leveled off– and Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state may have reached an apex.

On both Sunday and Monday, the number of fatalities dipped slightly below 600– down from 630 on Saturday. While the numbers remain grim, it’s a change from a death toll that had been getting higher each day over the past few weeks.

From Sunday to Monday, 599 New Yorkers died of the virus across the state, bringing the total death toll up to 4,758.

A day earlier 594 people died, down from a record-high of 630 deaths on Saturday.

The death rate has been “effectively flat for two days,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing in Albany.

“While none of this is good news, the flattening — possible flattening — of the curve is better than the increases that we have seen,” he said.

Daily hospitalizations, ICU admissions and intubations are also down for the second day in a row.

However, the question remains as to what happens next if the apex has indeed been reached.

“The big question that we’re looking at now is what is the curve,” Cuomo said. “We’ve been talking about cases increasing, increasing, increasing until they don’t — when they stop increasing, then what happens?”

Some models suggest a peak in cases or deaths and then a quick decline, while others suggest a prolonged plateau at the peak — meaning the daily number of deaths will remain about the same for an extended period of time before they begin to decrease.

Experts remain divided as to how it will unfold.

“It can still go any way,” Cuomo said. “So it is hopeful, but it’s also inconclusive.”

He also warned that it may be only the beginning of an extended plateau.

“If we are plateauing we are plateauing at a very high level and there’s tremendous stress on the healthcare system,” he said.

The governor said the healthcare system is at “redline” — “staying at this level is problematic.”

“You can’t stay at redline for any period of time because the system will blow and that’s where we are, we are at redline.”

Cuomo has worked to increase the number of hospital beds, staff and supplies in order to relieve the stress on the state’s hospital.

Both the 2,500-bed hospital set up in the Javits Center and the 1,000-bed USNS Comfort ship have been switched from treating non-COVID patients to COVID patients, he said Monday.

However, a new model, he said, indicated that the state may not need as many hospital beds as originally projected.

Prior models predicted the state would reach an apex in coronavirus cases at the end of April and would need as many as 110,000 beds for COVID-19 patients at that point. If New York stays at its current rate, the number of beds needed would be significantly less, he said.

Cuomo said if New York’s coronavirus cases have actually flattened, it is the result of social distancing measures that must remain in place to prevent an uptick.

“There’s also a real danger in getting overconfident too quickly,” he said. “This is an enemy that we have underestimated from day one and we have paid the price dearly.”

He said despite the fact that the numbers may be turning, the pandemic is not over.

He said other places such as South Korea and Hong Kong have made the mistake of returning to normalcy too soon only to face an uptick in coronavirus cases.

“We’re not going to make that mistake,” Cuomo said.

He extended the “PAUSE” order that mandates all nonessential businesses and schools close through April 29.

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