New York Reports 540 Virus Deaths, Least in Almost Two Weeks

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(Bloomberg) --

New York’s daily coronavirus deaths dropped to 540, the lowest in almost two weeks, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday. But he cautioned that new hospitalizations remain high, and easing the lockdown depends on dramatically increased testing.

“The more you test, the more information, the more you can reopen society,” he said.

The state -- the center of the nation’s epidemic -- reported 7,090 new cases Saturday for a total of 236,732.

The governor pointedly declined to repeat his stringent criticism of President Donald Trump, as he had the day before, even as he continued to call on the federal government for help in expanding testing. Trump has said testing is the responsibility of the states.

Cuomo sought instead to reel back tensions, saying that the nation needed “unity” instead of partisan divide.

“It’s as tumultuous a time as we have ever seen,” he told reporters at a briefing in Albany. “But in the midst of this there is no time for politics.”

Help Wanted

He said New York and other states were not equipped to reach the required scale of testing without help from the federal government, which he said could better coordinate supplies from places like China.

“We cannot do it without federal help,” Cuomo said. “I don’t do China relations, I don’t do international supply chain.”

The state’s total death toll is now 13,362. The number of deaths reported Saturday was lower than the 630 reported the previous day and was the first time it had dropped below 600 in 12 days. The highest number was 799 deaths on April 9.

He continued to stress a regional approach to returning to normal.

New Jersey reported new cases increased by less than 10% for a 12th straight day -- 3,026 for a total of 81,420. Fatalities totaling 231 took the tally beyond 4,000, more than the past three flu seasons combined, Governor Phil Murphy said Saturday at a press briefing.

Pennsylvania reported 80 new deaths, its highest daily toll. The state now has 31,069 cases, up 1,628 on Saturday.

Infection Rate

In New York, Cuomo cited positive signs of lower emergency room and intensive care admissions, as well as fewer people placed on ventilators. The average infection rate per person, he said, had dropped to .9 from a high of 1.4.

But while new hospitalizations had ticked down slightly over the last three days, they remain high -- at just under 2,000 per day.

“If you look at the past three days, you could argue we are starting to descend,’ he said, adding a note of caution. “Happy days are not here again.”

He also said he was worried about infections and deaths in nursing homes, in which 36 people died overnight.

As he often has in daily briefings, Cuomo spoke more broadly about the social effects of the virus and lockdown.

He said he understood divorce rates were going up. A new executive order will allow marriages via video.

“The emotion in this country is as high as I can recall,” he said. “People are frustrated, we’re anxious, we’re scared, we’re angry.”

“On every level this is a terrible experience,” he said. “It’s terrible to the core.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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