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COVID-19 peak around a week away, Cuomo says

COVID-19 peak around a week away, Cuomo says

Schenectady County reports another COVID death, Albany County two more
COVID-19 peak around a week away, Cuomo says
NYSDOH officials set up a drive-thru COVID-19 testing center in the Colonial Quad parking lot at UAlbany Saturday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber / Staff Photographer

NEW YORK STATE -- New York state hit new records again for the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and daily deaths on Friday, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Saturday that the apex in cases could be as soon as a week to 14 days away.


"Our reading of the projections is we're somewhere in the seven-day range, four, five, six, seven, eight day range," Cuomo said at his daily briefing at the State Capitol in Albany. "Nobody can give you a specific number, which makes it very frustrating to plan when they can't give you a specific number or a specific date, but we're in that range."


There are now 113,704 confirmed cases -- by far the most in the nation -- with more than 10,000 new cases diagnosed just on Friday. Nearly 16,000 people are hospitalized statewide, and 3,565 have died -- meaning there were 630 more deaths on Friday, the highest one-day total so far.


Schenectady County reported another death, and Albany County two more. Each county has now had six COVID-19 deaths.


The state also released a breakdown of deaths by county and by age group for the first time on Saturday. New York City, the national epicenter of the pandemic, has had 2,624 deaths, or three-quarters of the state's total, followed by Nassau with 396, and Westchester with 197.


In terms of age range for fatalities, 82 percent of deaths were among people age 60 or over, and 63.5 percent were over age 70, according to the state Department of Health. Only seven percent of those who have died, or 258 people, have been under age 50.


Nationwide, 277,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus-caused disease, which has killed 6,593 people as of Friday evening, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


A day after his order seeking to take unused ventilators from upstate hospitals was met with significant resistance from both local elected and hospital officials, Cuomo said the order will bring only about 500 additional respirators to the New York City-area hospitals that need them. After the pushback, a Cuomo senior adviser said Friday night the state would take only 20 percent of a hospital's unused machines.


While local governments and hospitals have been wary to share ventilators, others have been exceptionally generous. Cuomo not only reported that 1,000 ventilators were due to be flown into New York City from China on Saturday, but that the state of Oregon was donating 140 machines as well, a move he called "astonishing and unexpected." 


"Ventilators remain our greatest challenge, and we have received a generous donation of 1,000 ventilators from the Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation and the Chinese government, as well as 140 ventilators from Oregon -- and these ventilators will save lives," the governor said. "This is a painful, disorienting experience, but we will get through it together and we will all be the better for it."


Ventilators are a crucial piece of equipment in treating victims of COVID-19, which can cause severe respiratory symptoms, especially in older people and those with underlying health conditions.


"New York needs more ventilators, and we are answering their call for help. We'll be sending 140 ventilators to help NY because Oregon is in a better position right now. We must do all that we can to help those on the front lines of this response," Oregon Gov. Kate Brown wrote on Twitter.


While an order for 17,000 ventilators made in China never materialized, Cuomo said the state hopes that sharing ventilators between two patients and using less-powerful breathing-assistance machines to help less-sick patients will get the state through the coming peak, after which the number of cases is expected to drop.


"You go to war with what you have, not what you need," he said.


So far, the vast majority of COVID-19 cases have been in New York City and its immediate neighboring suburbs. The number of cases is currently increasing most rapidly on Long Island, while upstate has accounted consistently for five to seven percent of all the state's cases. "It is moving east rather than north," Cuomo observed.


Also on Saturday, Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy announced that the county now has 278 confirmed cases, and that on Friday there were two more deaths -- a woman in her 90s and a man in his 70s. The total death toll for the county now stands at six.


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"It continues to break my heart to have to report on the deaths of Albany County residents, and I cannot imagine what these families are going through," McCoy said. "It's becoming clear that we're entering a new phase of the pandemic, and this sadly is the new norm."

Schenectady County now has 112 confirmed cases, and there has been a another death, county officials said. Twenty-nine people are now hospitalized in the county, some of them downstate residents being treated at Ellis Medicine.

Elsewhere, Saratoga County has 150 cases; Montgomery County, 13; Schoharie County, 10; and Fulton County, nine.

In other developments:

  • Mohawk Ambulance Service of Schenectady reported that two field employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The employees are quarantined and receiving medical treatment. Several other employees known to have contact with those employees have been placed in isolation as a precaution, Mohawk Ambulance said. 
  • Mohawk is working with the state Department of Health to contact patients who may have had contact with the employees. The vehicles and equipment are being cleaned frequently, the commercial ambulance service said, with all shifts continuing to be fully staffed.
  • The Capital Region's first drive-through coronavirus testing center will open Monday, April 6, at the University at Albany's Colonial Quad, off Washington Avenue. Testing is reserved for those who have been in close contact with a COVID-19 patient or believe they have symptoms. All appointments must be made through the state's hotline, 888-364-3065; no walk-ins will be taken.
  • To boost support for local businesses across the state, the Retail Council of New York State launched RetailNewYork.com -- an online directory of local merchants who continue in business. "Their stores might be closed for now, but they're open for on-line and phone orders and ready to ship right to your door," said Ted Potrikus, the council's president and CEO.
  • The condition of state Sen. James Seward of Milford has deteriorated, his wife reported on Facebook. Seward, whose district includes Schoharie County, has been under treatment for COVID for the last week at Albany Medical Center. "His condition had deteriorated quite rapidly and became dire," Cindy Seward, who is herself quarantined with a milder case, reported on Saturday. "I spoke with the doctor last evening and Jim is responding to nurse commands and his condition is slightly improved. The next few days are crucial."
  • In Schoharie County, SALT Development, the community recovery and development organization, called for volunteers to help make or sterilize face masks for community use. “We've been asked to collect over 2,000 masks to meet local needs,” said SALT Development board chair Anne Morton. “If everyone in our community who can sew makes ten masks each, we know that we can meet this need! We can't do it without you though! Please email or call SALT today and let us know how many masks you can make us this week.” Morton can be reached at [email protected] or call 585-737-1531.

Reach staff writer Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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