'We Are Beyond Staggering,' Warns Gov. Cuomo as Coronavirus Overwhelms New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the worst has yet to come for his state as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate the regional population with medical facilities overwhelmed and the death toll beyond 1,200 people.

“No American is immune to this virus. I don’t care if you live in Kansas. I don’t care if you live in Texas.”
—New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Even as the dramatic sight of the USNS Comfort, a U.S.military hospital ship, docking in New York City harbor gave many people hope for additional relief, Cuomo at a mid-day press conference said that public health officials and frontline doctors and nurses remain inundated by the virus.

Cuomo called New York—now the U.S. epicenter of the global pandemic—the “canary in the coalmine” and said that what his state is now experiencing should be a warning to the entire nation. “No American is immune to this virus,” Cuomo said. “I don’t care if you live in Kansas. I don’t care if you live in Texas.”

According to the latest state figures, there are now 66,497 confirmed coronavirus cases in New York, including 9,517 people hospitalized, 2,352 ICU patients, and 4,204 patients who have been hospitalized and subsequently discharged. As of this writing, the death toll in the state sits at 1,218.

“We’ve lost over 1,000 New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “To me, we are beyond staggering already.”

During the press conference Cuomo asked for healthcare professionals from outside the state to come and help New Yorkers in their time of need. He said that nurses and doctors and other health professionals in the state all need some relief.

“The big picture is the situation is painfully clear now,” Cuomo added. “There’s no question as to what we’re dealing with. There’s no question as to the consequences. There’s no question as to the grief and loss of life. And there’s no question about what we must do. There are only two missions. There are only two operations that we need to perform. First, the public has to be responsible. Stay at home—it is a mandate. Stay at home.” While he acknowledged the restrictions are oppressive, Cuomo said they are “better than the alternative”—which is further spread of the disease.

The second thing that must be done, said Cuomo, is winning the “frontline battle” in the healthcare system—meaning hospitals across the state and nationwide. Not letting the “hospitals get overwhelmed” is the key, he said. “The soldiers in this fight are our healthcare professionals. It’s the doctors, it’s the nurses, it’s the people who are working in the hospitals, it’s the aids—they are the soldiers who are fighting this battle for us.”

Watch Cuomo’s full press conference:

On Friday, Vanity Fair reported that deaths related to the outbreak in New York were “reaching ‘apocalyptic’ heights,” with hospitals overwhelmed and crucial medical supplies becoming increasingly scarce:

The rapid escalation, which is only expected to worsen, now threatens to collapse the healthcare system as the virus did in places like Italy, which has taken the worst hit from coronavirus of any country in the world—including China, where the virus was first detected late last year. Beds are already filling up, forcing some New York City patients to sit in chairs. Resources, like the ventilators needed to care for patients with severe symptoms of the virus, are in short supply. And shortages in protective gear for medical workers, who have been particularly vulnerable to the virus in other countries thanks to their extensive exposure to those infected with it, have led to desperate measures in New York and across the country, including medical professionals at city hospitals wearing garbage bags as safety gear. Officials have warned that what’s happening in New York could soon happen elsewhere in the country.

While the USNS Comfort‘s mission is to treat only non-COVID-19 patients, its presence will bring relief to New York City hospitals overwhelmed by the outbreak. Public health officials in the city are also using Central Park to set up makeshift hospitals, but those on the frontlines say that more resources are urgently needed.

“There is not enough of anything,” an attending physician in the anesthesiology department of a Long Island hospital told CNN. “There are just so many patients who are so sick it seems impossible to keep up with the demand.”

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