New York City coronavirus deaths mount as Cuomo warns of uncertain future

New York City is now a warzone.

As coronavirus hot spots flare across America, the nation’s biggest city has been hit hard — and it shows.

”It’s like a battlefield behind your home,” said 33-year-old Emma Sorza, who could hear the sirens from severely swamped Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.

The worst is yet to come.

“How does it end? And people want answers,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “I want answers. The answer is nobody knows for sure.”

New York’s COVID-19 death count more than doubled in 72 hours to 1,941 as of Wednesday.

One month after New York discovered its first infection — a health care worker returning from Iran — the state has tallied more than 83,000 positive cases. The 1,941 deaths were up from 965 on Sunday morning. New York logged its first virus-related death on March 13, an 82-year-old woman with emphysema.

With more than 12,000 people hospitalized, Cuomo said the latest outbreak projections show no respite this month.

“What we’re looking at now is the apex — the top of the curve — roughly at the end of April, which means another month of this,” Cuomo said at a state Capitol news briefing.

One model cited by Cuomo projected 16,000 deaths in New York once the outbreak runs its course in the coming months, though the governor stressed it’s unclear how the pandemic will end.

“Nobody knows what’s going to happen. And I understand the need for closure, the need for control,” he said. “We’re at a place we’ve never been before.”

Worldwide, more than 900,000 people have been infected and over 45,000 have died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, though the real figures are believed to be much higher because of testing shortages, differences in counting the dead and large numbers of mild cases that have gone unreported.

The U.S. recorded about 210,000 infections and about 4,600 deaths, with New York City accounting for about 1 out of 4 dead.

Nearly 6,200 New York City police officers, or one-sixth of the department, were out sick Wednesday, including about 4,800 who reported flu-like systems, though it was not clear how many had the virus.

A medical advisory council is telling paramedics in New York City they shouldn’t take fatal heart victims to hospitals to have them pronounced dead.

The temporary protocol issued this week by the Regional Emergency Medical Service is meant to ease the burden on city hospitals, some of which have begun transferring patients more than 100 miles north to the Albany area.

Albany Med said it accepted 14 transfer patients late Tuesday who have either confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. The hospital said it accepted patients from hospitals in Jamaica and Flushing, both in Queens.

Data released by the city shows that the disease is having a disproportionate effect in certain neighborhoods, mainly in Brooklyn and Queens.

An emergency field hospital with 68 beds opened Wednesday in Central Park near the Mount Sinai Hospital. A temporary hospital in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and a Navy hospital ship docked off Manhattan were also taking patients.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is engaged in the “epic process” of increasing hospital capacity from 20,000 beds to 65,000 beds by the end of April. He said the city needs more than 5 million masks, 100,000 gowns and 400 more ventilators by Sunday just to be prepared for next week. He said the city will need up to 3,000 more ventilators during the next week.

More than 80,000 people have volunteered as medical reinforcements in New York, including recent retirees, health care professionals taking a break from their regular jobs and people between gigs.

Few have made it into the field yet, as authorities vet and figure out how to use them, but hospitals are expected to begin bringing them in later this week.

With New York on near-lockdown, the normally bustling streets in the city of 8.6 million are empty, and sirens are no longer easily ignored as just urban background noise.

Meg Gifford, a 61-year-old former Wall Streeter who lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, said: “After 9/11, I remember we actually wanted to hear the sound of ambulances on our quiet streets because that meant there were survivors, but we didn’t hear those sounds, and it was heartbreaking. Today, I hear an ambulance on my strangely quiet street and my heart breaks, too.”