AFP, published on Tuesday April 07, 2020 at 11:30 p.m.
New York State, epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States, glimpsed glimpses of hope in its fight against the disease on Tuesday, even if it recorded a new record number of 731 deaths in the last 24 hours.
The previous record dated from Saturday, with 630 deaths in one day. New York State has now recorded 5,489 deaths since the start of the epidemic, according to its governor Andrew Cuomo, or almost half of the deaths recorded in the whole of the United States.
But local authorities have put forward more encouraging figures, such as the average of new hospitalizations recorded in the past three days, in a state which has some 139,000 people officially infected.
“If you look, the three-day average is down, which is good news,” Cuomo said in his daily press briefing on the crisis.
Projections show that “we are reaching a plateau in the total number of hospitalizations,” said the governor. “We see the increase and we see that it starts to flatten”.
The mayor of the economic capital of the United States, whose schools and most non-essential activities have been shut down since March 16, has also cautiously highlighted some encouraging trends.
“It is far too early to draw conclusions”, but “in the past two days, something has started to change (…), we see a little improvement in the needs for respirators”, this allows hospitals to “last longer,” said Bill de Blasio.
The beginning of a slowdown in hospital admissions also seems to be valid for the greater New York region, which extends to the neighboring states of New Jersey and Connecticut, said their respective governors, Phil Murphy and Ned Lamont, on Tuesday.
But all these officials also called on especially not to compromise these first positive signs, and to strictly respect the measures of containment and social distancing which have put an end to this key region for the American economy.
Cuomo extended the measures on Monday until April 29. The governor of New Jersey told him on Tuesday that he was going to extend the state of health emergency which allows him to extend confinement by one month, and has closed all the parks in this state, too many people going for a walk. without respecting distancing.
While many deplore measures taken in dispersed order by the American states, the three governors indicated to work together, in particular on the best strategy of tests which will, in the weeks and months to come, to the people having acquired an immunity vis-a-vis the virus return to work and revive economic activity.
– Soon a cathedral-hospital –
These glimmers of hope come as New York has struggled in recent weeks to increase its hospital capacity and obtain more protective equipment and respirators to cope with the influx of patients.
Many hospitals have been turned upside down to make room for additional beds, and tents pitched everywhere, like those erected in Central Park, close to one of the large hospitals of the Mount Sinai group.
Saint John the Theologian Cathedral, an impressive Gothic-style building north of Manhattan, was also preparing to transform into a 400-bed hospital on Tuesday.
Volunteers from the Samaritan’s Purse charity brought boxes containing tents to erect in the nave, AFP noted.
“Traditionally, in past centuries, cathedrals were used in this way, as during the plague. So it’s not new (…), it’s just new to us,” said the dean of the cathedral, Clifton Daniel, on the parish Twitter account.
The federal government has already helped convert the Javits Center conference center in Manhattan into a hospital.
With a capacity of more than 2,500 beds, the center received 66 patients on Tuesday, according to Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis of the United States Navy.
The Navy also dispatched the impressive USNS Comfort military hospital ship last week, whose white silhouette now dominates western Manhattan. Forty-four patients were treated there Tuesday, including five with Covid-19.
Vice Admiral Lewis confirmed that a Comfort crew member had tested positive for the disease, but noted that he had been placed in solitary confinement and that it would “have no impact on the mission” of the ship.