New York Woman, 82, Dead After Contracting Coronavirus

An 82-year-old woman has died of coronavirus in New York City, according to a tweet from a local newscaster, marking the first confirmed death from COVID-19 -- the respiratory illness caused by the virus -- in The Big Apple, and indeed, New York state.

At about 10:40 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, WPIX-TV correspondent Dan Mannarino tweeted that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had confirmed in a morning news conference that the elderly woman, who had been hospitalized since March 3, had died of the infectious respiratory disease.

"BREAKING: @NYGovCuomo reports on AM conference call that #nyc has its first #coronavirus death. 82yo woman who died last night who contracted the virus and had emphysema. She came into the hospital on March 3. #COVIDー19," he tweeted.

As The New York Post reports, Governor Cuomo, at his press conference, noted that the woman contracted the virus "on top of" her existing emphysema condition, making for a deadly combination. According to The Mayo Clinic, emphysema is a lung condition that causes shortness of breath -- COVID-19 is also a respiratory illness.

That an elderly woman with an underlying health condition would die from COVID-19 is standard operating procedure for this illness, as it is deadliest in the elderly and in people with underlying health conditions. In otherwise-healthy individuals who aren't elderly, the coronavirus rarely causes anything worse than mild symptoms, or indeed, no symptoms at all.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 13: A closed sign outside of Museum of Modern Art on March 13, 2020 in New York City. Due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the United States, many events have been canceled. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
Getty Images | Cindy Ord

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, appearing on MSNBC News, said that he heard about the death just before going on the show, and called it "tragic."

Elsewhere in and around New York City, and in the state as a whole, officials are scrambling to contain the virus.

Whereas a week or so ago, Washington state was the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., New York state now has more cases of the disease than any other state. As of this writing, the state has 524 positive cases, an increase of 100 since just the previous day, and 117 patients are now hospitalized.

Cuomo predicts that next week, the number of active cases will exceed 1,000. However, he adds that the increase is not necessarily because of the virus' spread, but due to more confirmations from having more tests.

"Numbers are spiking because our testing capacity is going up," Cuomo said.

Further, as New York City's WNBC-TV reports, Cuomo isn't convinced that the numbers are an accurate reading of the severity of the spread of the illness in his state.

"We believe there are thousands of people who have coronavirus [in the state]. Maybe tens of thousands," he said.

This is a breaking news story. More information about this death will be provided as it becomes available.