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            Cuomo: New York getting more funeral directors to handle coronavirus deaths

            Rapid testing for workers cited as key to eventually restarting economy

            Photo of Brendan J. Lyons
            Brendan J. Lyons

            ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday said New York will enlist extra funeral 体彩app官方网站 directors to help deal with the the increasing number of deaths as the state endured it worst week of fatalities associated with the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

            The governor used his briefing at the Capitol to also explain how projection models they have relied on had estimated the state would need tens of thousands of additional hospital beds to handle the pandemic. But that number has dropped sharply as a result of a nationwide shutdown of businesses and social gatherings.

            He noted that at the end of March, a White House task force had also indicated the number of deaths nationwide could top 1.5 million, a prediction that has more recently dropped to around 60,000.

            "Luckily, the current trend, if it continues … we’re at about 18,000 hospitalized right now," Cuomo said.

            Still, the governor said the situation remains grim and that 799 people died on Wednesday, up from 779 fatalities a day earlier. New York has had 7,067 deaths associated with COVID-19 since the pandemic struck here 39 days ago. More than 4,130 of the fatalities have come in the past six days.

            Cuomo again cautioned the public to stay vigilant about social distancing and his administration on Thursday clarified that golf courses statewide are being ordered closed, noting they are not "essential."

            "The moment you stop following the policies you will go right back and see that number shoot through the roof and we are not prepared to handle the numbers in those highest projection models," Cuomo said. "We’re going to bring in additional funeral directors to deal with the number of people who have passed. If you ever told me as governor that I would have to take these actions, I couldn’t even contemplate where we are now."

            The fatalities are increasing as the rate of hospitalizations, including the number of patients entering intensive care units, is continuing to drop.

            Cuomo said the state, which has augmented its hospitals with temporary facilities, including the USNS Comfort that is docked in New York Harbor, has about 90,000 hospital beds. Before the pandemic began, the state had 53,000 hospital beds, including 3,000 intensive care beds.

            "We can’t handle the worse-case scenarios. We can’t even handle the moderate-case scenarios," Cuomo said. "We don’t have an option of handling the curve if it goes higher."

            He said the 200 new hospital admissions for COVID-19 on Wednesday were "the lowest number we've had since this nightmare started." At the end of March, the number of new hospitalizations were topping 1,400 per day.

            "There has to be a social acceptance and adherence to the policy," Cuomo said. "We are saving lives by what people are doing today."

            The restarting of New York's economy, when that comes, will be a cautious process that may rely on the ability to deploy a new blood test to determine if a person has the antibodies to indicate they have recovered from the infectious disease and are not at risk to return to work. The state is coordinating that research effort with Connecticut and New Jersey, including developing a rapid test for coronavirus that can be used on a mass scale.

            The state has asked private companies to help develop the tests, the governor said.

            "We’re going to go from red to yellow," Cuomo said. "Let the people who can go back to work start to go back to work. How do you know? Test them."