CORONAVIRUS CASES TOP 12,000 IN NYC, mayor says 75 prisoners released from city jails

1010 WINS Newsroom
March 23, 2020 - 5:45 pm
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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Coronavirus cases in New York City jumped past 12,000 Monday as Mayor Bill de Blasio says 75 prisoners have been released from city jails.

The mayor said he will be meeting with officials later and will consider the release of 200 more prisoners.

The number of deaths neared remained at 99 and officials announced the Javits Center in Manhattan will become a massive hospital.

On Monday afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed there were 12,339 cases of the virus in the five boroughs—over 3,000 more than Sunday.

The cases by borough as of Monday afternoon are:

  • Queens: 3,621
  • Brooklyn: 3,494
  • Manhattan: 2,572
  • The Bronx: 1,829
  • Staten Island: 817

At least 1,800 people have been hospitalized and 450 of those people are in intensive care, officials said.

De Blasio also said NYC would soon be getting 400 ventilators from the federal stockpile.

The surging number of cases in the city make up a third of all cases in the U.S., about 60 percent of the cases in New York state.

There are 20,000 coronavirus cases in New York—5,000 of those are new, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. There were 78,000 total people tested in New York—16,000 overnight. 

New York's death toll climbed from 114 to 157 Monday, and the state now represents 1 percent of all coronavirus deaths worldwide.

Speaking from the Javits Center on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said construction of four 250-bed federal emergency hospitals will be built in the Javits Center over the next 7 to 10 days.

The hospitals are being built by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Construction material for the hospitals had already started to arrive as Cuomo spoke.

Gov. Cuomo at the Javits Center
Darius Radzius/1010 WINS
Each of the hospitals will be 40,000 square feet and be staffed by 320 federal staff members.

"This is the first time I think they've ever built a hospital in the Javits Center," Cuomo said.

In total, the Javits Center will have beds for 1,000 people on the showroom floor, the governor said. 

"Besides those 1,000 units, which are designed to provide a backfill for the hospitals, to free beds in the hospitals, we'll be using these 1,000 emergency beds," Cuomo said.

He said they also hope to construct another 1,000 beds for additional medical care to lighten the load on overwhelmed hospitals.

"So we could get a 2,000-bed capacity in this facility," Cuomo said.

The governor said the state has 53,000 hospital beds but is projecting it will need 110,000 beds.

On Monday, Cuomo ordered hospitals in the state to increase their capacity by 50 percent.

"If that all works that takes us from 50,000 to about 75,000 beds," Cuomo said, admitting that still wasn't enough.

He said he was more worried about equipment shortages than bed shortages.

"Because many of these acute cases are going to need ventilators, and we need about 30,000 ventilators and we can just not get them," Cuomo said. "And that's where we're going to need the federal government to step in and step up."

Cuomo said he thinks President Donald Trump should use the Defense Production Act to force companies to produce a certain amount of equipment as soon as possible. He said some companies have been stepping up to the plate, but not enough equipment has been produced.

"Yes, we need hospital beds. Yes, we need staff, but most of all we need equipment," Cuomo said.

Trump said Sunday he was giving the go-ahead to deploy the National Guard to New York, and he said the federal government is sending 1,000 beds and other medical supplies to the state as it battles a coronavirus outbreak.

Trump said he approved a Major Disaster Declaration for New York and that the four medical hospitals would be built in New York. 

The president also said the federal government will fund 100 percent of the National Guard deployment to the state; states normally would cover 25 percent of the cost. He said the governor would remain in command.

Trump said 186,000 N95 masks, 84,000 face shields, 68,000 surgical gowns and 245,000 gloves had already been sent to New York.

Over the weekend, Cuomo urged the federal government to do more to help New York as it battles a coronavirus outbreak, formally asking the Army Corps of Engineers to build temporary hospitals in New York City, Long Island and Westchester. Cuomo said he wanted the hospitals built at the Javits Center, at SUNY Stony Brook and SUNY Westbury on Long Island, and at the Westchester Convention Center.

"That will give us regional coverage in downstate New York, which is our most heavily impacted area," the governor said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Monday that New York City's 11 public hospitals will only have enough supplies for about another week.

The mayor spoke with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence Sunday about getting desperately needed ventilators to the city. De Blasio has called upon the federal government to boost the city’s quickly dwindling supply of protective equipment. 

"What I need right now is action, not words—and every day counts," the mayor told 1010 WINS.

De Blasio fears that if hopitals don't receive the help they need, they will "start to lose lives that could've been saved."

"April is going to be worse than March," the mayor said Sunday on MSNBC. "And I fear May will be worse than April."

Health care workers also warned of the worsening shortages, saying they were being asked to reuse and ration disposable masks and gloves.

The state is putting out an emergency order requiring hospitals to come up with a plan to increase their capacity by at least 50% and cancel non-critical elective surgery, Cuomo said. The state currently has about 53,000 hospital beds but is expected to need 110,000 as the pandemic progresses.

New York City hospitals scrambled Sunday to accommodate a swell new of patients, dedicating new coronavirus wings in their facilities. It remained “extremely busy” at Northwell hospitals, a spokesman said, adding their intensive care units were filling up.

“A number of hospitals have reported that they are becoming overwhelmed,” said Jonah Allon, a spokeswoman for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

On Tuesday, the state will start conducting trials of an experimental COVID-19 treatment with the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic Zithromax, Cuomo said.

“We are all optimistic that it could work,” he said.

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STAY HOME ORDER

An order requiring most New Yorkers stay home went into effect Sunday, part of the state’s efforts to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

The state’s “nonessential” businesses were to close by 8 p.m. under an order that also banned “non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason.”

New Yorkers may still go outside their homes but must stay 6 feet away from anyone who isn’t a member of their household.

The order exempts several businesses, including food and beverage stores, gas stations, auto repair places, schools, health care facilities, construction and utility workers, hotels, hardware stores, restaurants, laundromats, banks, financial markets, janitors and others.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also announced a law intended to protect the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Those individuals, including New Yorkers 70 and older, must stay home and limit their visitation to immediate family or close friends needing emergency assistance.

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SOCIAL DISTANCING

Cuomo said Sunday he was exasperated people are still ignoring his social distancing orders, saying he’s still seeing people clustering in groups and acting like it was just another nice spring weekend.

“There is a density level in New York City that is wholly inappropriate,” the governor said. “This is just a mistake! It is a mistake! It is insensitive. It is arrogant. It is self-destructive. It’s disrespectful to other people and it has to stop and it has to stop now. This is not a joke and I am not kidding.”

The Democrat said city officials must come up with a plan immediately to prevent people from congregating in parks or elsewhere.

De Blasio stopped short of closing playgrounds or parks Sunday but said police will start clearing out places that get too crowded. He advised people not to mix with other families and keep exercise brief and solitary.

“We will be enforcing this, but with understanding,” they mayor said. “We will enforce through education. We will enforce with warnings.”

If people don’t act responsibly about using playgrounds, “we’ll have to at that point strongly consider shutting them down,” de Blasio said.

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INMATES INFECTED

The largest coronavirus jail outbreak in the nation has been reported in New York City, with at least 38 people testing positive at the notorious Rikers Island complex and nearby facilities.

Mayor de Blasio said 75 people have already been released from city jails and 200 more are being considered.

Another inmate became the first in the country to test positive in a federal jail.

Jacqueline Sherman, interim chairwoman of the Board of Correction, said 12 Department of Correction employees, five Correctional Health Services employees and 21 people in custody at Rikers and city jails have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week and at least 58 others were being monitored in contagious disease and quarantine units.

More than 2.2 million people are incarcerated in the United States and there are growing fears that an outbreak could spread rapidly through a vast network of federal and state prisons, county jails and detention centers.

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PRIMARY VOTING

New York Attorney General Letitia James called on the state Sunday to suspend in-person voting and send every eligible voter an absentee ballot for the April 28 Democratic presidential primary.

“Let’s make it easier for every voter to cast their vote without spreading the coronavirus and jeopardizing public health,” James said in a statement. “Democracy should not be suspended if there is a safe alternative.”

The Erie County Board of Elections released a special absentee ballot application almost two weeks ago listing “public health emergency (COVID-19)” as an option for voting absentee in the special election to fill the open seat in the 27th congressional district. James said the executive order she’s seeking goes further by ensuring every eligible voter is automatically sent an absentee ballot.

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