Sirens a constant as NY state near 1,000 coronavirus deaths

NEW YORK —
New York state’s coronavirus death toll is nearing 1,000, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday. The state accounts for more than 40% of coronavirus deaths in the U.S.

The number of disease-related deaths in the state jumped to 965 from 728 on Saturday, Cuomo said. The vast majority have been in New York City.

Figures released Sunday morning showed 678 coronavirus deaths in the city, which continues to be the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. The city had 161 deaths in a 24-hour period spanning Saturday to Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Meanwhile, ambulances in the city are responding to a record number of calls and new data is showing which parts of the city are being hit the hardest by disease.

Here are the latest coronavirus developments in New York:

‘UNPRECEDENTED’ SURGE IN 911 CALLS

New Yorkers are hearing a constant wail of sirens as weary ambulance crews respond to a record volume of 911 calls, many from people experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus.

The city’s ambulances are responding to about 6,000 calls a day — more than 50% more than average. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Sunday that the last five days have been the busiest stretch in the history of the city’s EMS operation.

“This is unprecedented,” de Blasio said. “We have never seen our EMS system get this many calls — ever.”

Nigro said the surge is delaying responses to lower-level calls. De Blasio said the city is planning to shift personnel onto EMS crews to help keep up with demand.

RUNNING LOW ON SUPPLIES, VENTILATORS

De Blasio said he has asked the federal government to deliver 400 more ventilators to city hospitals by Wednesday and warned that without reinforcements the city will run out of masks, gowns and other hospital supplies in a week.

With the expected peak of cases in the city still two to three weeks away, de Blasio said Sunday that he has asked the U.S. military to aid in sending needs new waves of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to the city.

Cuomo said Sunday that more than 76,000 health professionals, including many who’ve recently retired from the field, have volunteered to help in the coronavirus fight.

The USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds, 12 operating rooms and a full medical staff, is scheduled to arrive in the city on Monday. It will be used to treat non-coronavirus patients to free up space in city hospitals to deal with the disease.

POOR NEIGHBORHOODS HIT HARD

Coronavirus is overwhelming some of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods, according to new data released by the city.

Queens accounts for 32% of the city’s more than 30,000 confirmed cases as of Saturday — more than any other borough.

Neighborhoods such as Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona, which are generally poor, densely packed and have large non-English speaking populations, have been among the hardest hit, according to a city map showing percent ranges of people testing positive for the disease, also known as COVID-19. In those areas, between 69% and 86% of the tests done have come back positive.

A hospital in Elmhurst has been overrun with coronavirus cases. One day last week, 13 hospital patients with the virus died.

Statistics on coronavirus cases do not reflect everyone who may have the virus, because many people have been told to manage their illness at home and are not getting tested.

EARLY PATIENT GOES HOME

The number of patients being discharged at the state’s hospitals after they’ve been treated for coronavirus has increased daily to a high of 845 on Saturday, Cuomo said. In all, more than 3,500 people have been discharged.

They include a lawyer from the New York City suburbs connected to one of the earliest U.S. coronavirus clusters. Lawrence Garbuz’s family and neighbor were infected, as well as members of his synagogue.

“The ‘patient zero’ — what we call patient zero in Westchester, New Rochelle — who was very sick for a very long time, he has actually gone home,” Cuomo said Sunday. “He’s out of the hospital.”

As of Sunday, more than 8,500 people remain hospitalized across the state because of the disease, including more than 2,000 in intensive care. In New York City, about 20% of coronavirus cases have led to hospitalizations.

Those totals are continuing to spike, but Cuomo said they’re not multiplying nearly as quickly as they were last week. From March 16-19, the number of hospitalizations in the state doubled every two days. Now it’s taking about six days for the number to double.

TRAVEL ADVISORY CONCERNS

On Saturday, after saying he was weighing the idea of a mandatory quarantine for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, President Donald Trump tweeted that instead he’d issue advisory urging people in those states to avoid any nonessential travel for two weeks.

New York City Mayor Bill de De Blasio said he worried about the advisory’s impact on families with members in New York and other places who were looking to reunite.

“We’ve got to respect, in the middle of a crisis, families have a right to be together,” de Blasio said.

All 50 U.S. states have reported some cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, but New York state has the most, with over 52,000 positive tests for the illness and more than 700 deaths. About 7,300 people were in New York hospitals Saturday, including about 1,800 in intensive care.

NURSING HOME DEATHS

Through Friday, 24% of coronavirus deaths in New York state were among nursing home residents, according to the state Department of Health figures released to The Associated Press.

The state said there were more than 740 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases in licensed nursing homes at 129 of the state’s 613 nursing homes, which serve more than 100,000 residents.

As of Friday, 122 nursing home residents in the state have died of the disease. In less than two weeks, the virus has claimed seven lives at one Long Island retirement community, with the latest death coming Saturday.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

— With schools and many day care centers closed, states, local governments and philanthropists are scrambling to provide child care for parents who are needed on the front lines of the virus fight.

— College students were sent home because of the coronavirus are taking advantage of their last days on campus to forge a few more memories.

— James Dolan, the owner of the New York Knicks and Rangers, has tested positive for COVID-19.

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Marina Villeneuve reported from Albany, New York.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak