New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made an appearance on NBC’s Today Show on Tuesday to speak about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has forced the city to enact a quarantine. As of Tuesday morning, the death toll in New York City currently stands at 914, with 38,087 confirmed coronavirus cases still on the books, per the New York Post. With deaths attributed to COVID-19 rising exponentially in recent days, de Blasio doesn’t expect the surge in cases to slow down. The mayor estimated that the worst of the pandemic would extend into May, and blamed “community spread” as the major reason for the extended fight.
“The data is what we’re looking at all the time, making our decisions based on, but obviously, it means human lives, over 900 lives already lost in New York City. And what we’re seeing is a sharp upturn over the last days, certainly the last few weeks… It’s deeply seeded in our communities and we’re going to see this all over the country, unfortunately.”
As for what the “worst” could entail, de Blasio said that every hospital bed in New York City could potentially be needed by a COVID-19 patient.
“We have about 20,000 hospital beds in all of New York City — that’s where we were, say, the beginning of this month, normal times. We project the potential that all of those beds, all 20,000, will have to be turned into intensive care beds to focus on COVID-19 patients who are really really sick.”
"We have to look at this pattern and conclude that the worst is certainly in the next few weeks, minimum. I could see it going into May, in fact, with the numbers we're looking at because we have community spread, and that's really the issue." -@NYCMayor pic.twitter.com/dQFF99UOiD— TODAY (@TODAYshow) March 31, 2020
Currently, 7,741 of New York City’s COVID-19 cases — about 20 percent of the total — have required hospitalization of the patient. ICU treatment was required for 1,700 coronavirus patients. Those numbers are a significant increase from only a week ago, when the city had 13,119 cases, 2,213 hospitalizations, and 525 patients in ICU. The mayor suggested that hospital capacity would need to be “tripled” in order to cope with the pandemic.
In an effort to increase medical capacity, field hospitals are being set up across the city in locations such as Central Park. Those field hospitals will take in COVID-19 patients once existing medical facilities are full. The Navy has docked the USNS Comfort in Manhattan, and will be accepting patients not being treated for the coronavirus.
De Blasio criticized New York residents who gathered to watch the docking of the USNS Comfort on Monday, calling their failure to follow social distancing guidelines “unacceptable.” The city intends to take a harder line with residents breaking social distancing guidelines, implementing fines between $250 and $500 for those who congregate in public spaces. Fines will also be levied upon citizens who fail to disperse when ordered, or who return after officers have told them to move along, per Politico.