April 7 (UPI) -- New York state on Tuesday reported its greatest single-day death toll from the coronavirus pandemic, although hospitalizations declined, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
The governor said 731 patients died between Monday and Tuesday, pushing the state total to nearly 5,500. Cuomo did, however, sound several notes of optimism -- in particular, that the numbers of new hospitalizations and intensive care patients are declining and the overall arc is "plateauing."
"Right now, we're projecting we're reaching a plateau in the total number of hospitalizations," he said, crediting tough social distancing policies.
The number of deaths are still rising because they're "a lagging indicator to the number of hospitalizations," Cuomo said.
"These are people who came in the peak. They were not successfully treated."
The governor said each death represents a painful loss and he again praised front-line healthcare workers, particularly in New York City, where most of the cases are located. He also said it's time to start thinking about how to restart the economy and expanding coronavirus testing on a large scale.The New York Department of Health has developed an antibody test and is working with federal officials and seeking private partners to scale it up.
Earlier Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a sweeping emergency plan to provide food for roughly 500,000 in the city who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
"We cannot underestimate the problem of hunger for everyday New Yorkers," he said in front of a public school in Manhattan where free meals were being served. "They're asking, 'where is my next meal coming from?'
"We need to address that. We will not let any New Yorker go hungry."
The mayor said city Commissioner Kathryn Garcia has been appointed "food czar" and is coordinating a system to feed those in need on a large scale. At least 2.6 million meals have been provided in the last three weeks, which de Blasio said is "just the beginning."
Under the effort, 435 sites across New York City will provide three meals per day.
Officials with the Department of Defense said Tuesday during a teleconference call with reporters that its two major medical relief sites in New York City -- the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort and the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which has been converted into a care facility -- have started accepting COVID-19 patients.
Jonathan Hoffman, the assistant to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, described them as "relife vales" for the city's overflowing hospital system.
"Both are open to COVID-positive patients," he said. "To that end, they are both online and receiving patients."
The Comfort, which is staffed by 1,000 medical professionals, has 44 patients with a capacity of 500 and there are 66 patients at Javits, which has 917 medical staff and can treat 2,500 non-urgent COVID patients, he said.
Maj. Gen. William Hall explained the plan is for the Javits center to focus on patients recovering from COVID-19, though there will be 98 intensive care unit beds in case any of those patients relapse.
In Westbury, Norfolk and Nassau Counties, the Army Corps has been working to establish overflow hospital sites, Hoffman said, adding 325 Department of Defense medical professionals have been dispatched to 11 hospitals to start working from tomorrow with an additional 775 to arrive in the city in the coming days.
Concerning supplies, Hoffman said the department has released 5 million N95 masks to the state and 300 ventilators have been transferred to New Jersey FEMA for distribution to New York hospitals.Nationally, there have been more than 370,000 coronavirus cases reported and more than 11,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. About 20,000 have recovered.
In Michigan, lawmakers passed a resolution Tuesday to extend the state's emergency declaration through April 30.
"A 23-day extension is reasonable," said Sen. Jim Stamas after a special session.
Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wanted an extension until June 15, but the measure failed on a voice vote.
"I wish the extension was longer, but we will continue to keep moving forward and doing our jobs just like millions of Americans are being asked to do," said Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich.
The Detroit area has recorded nearly 14,000 coronavirus cases and more than 600 related deaths.
In California, a new forecast predicted fewer deaths and hospitalizations than originally projected if social distancing policies are closely followed.The outlook, from researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, revises down the projected number of total deaths from about 6,100 to just under 1,800. It forecasts a daily peak of 70 deaths for April 17 -- sooner than previously expected.