April 13 (UPI) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio both reported significant progress Monday in the fight against the coronavirus disease in the U.S. epicenter for the crisis.
Cuomo said in an update it seems the worst of the crisis has passed in his state. He credited his strict lockdown measures, including the closing of all non-essential businesses, for "flattening the curve" of the outbreak.
"We're controlling the spread," he said. "The worst can be over, and is over, unless we do something reckless."
New York health officials reported 671 new deaths on Sunday, he said, pushing the state's total to 10,056. However, the single-day tally was lower than the average in recent days of about 750.
"About 2,000 people per day are walking in [to hospitals] or being diagnosed with [the disease], so you're still increasing the hospital population," Cuomo said.
The governor added that the strain on hospitals from new cases has been somewhat mitigated by a rising number of discharges.
Earlier Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also cited progress. He said the number of patients admitted to New York City hospitals and those placed in intensive care units both declined on Saturday, according to the most recent data available from city health officials. He added that the number of people testing positive was also lower.
Those three measures, he said, represents an advance in the fight against the disease.
"We are making real progress," de Blasio said. "We have to keep earning our way out of this through our actions... Staying focused, staying buckled down on rules and continue to stick to them, this is the way forward."
Most encouraging, he said, was an 80-patient decline of daily hospital admissions Saturday, to 383.
"That's a meaningful improvement," he added.
New York City alone has 104,000 cases as of Monday and almost 7,000 deaths.
There are so far more than 558,500 coronavirus cases and 22,100 related deaths in the United States, according to experts at Johns Hopkins University. The school has also begun tracking the number of people tested nationwide, a figure that was at 2.82 million by early Monday afternoon.
Monday, de Blasio said although the fight to bring down the rate of infection seems to be succeeding, the economic toll the crisis has taken on New York City is comparable only to the Great Depression. With that in mind, he joined a growing chorus of local leaders in the United States in calling for additional safeguards for renters who have been laid off or furloughed as a result of the outbreak.
New York state has already imposed an eviction moratorium for 90 days, meaning renters who cannot pay for their housing can't be removed until at least July, but de Blasio said Monday that period should be extended until 60 days past whenever the crisis ends to avoid "a massive wave of evictions."
The mayor also called for a rent deferral program to allow tenants to repay missed rents over a 12-month period.
Although many state and local governments have imposed moratoriums for evictions, those facing hardship worry what they will do once thousands of dollars of back rent becomes due.
Anne Mavity, executive director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership, projects the crisis will sock landlords with $173 million in lost rent and potentially displace 85,000 renters in her state.
"I think the horizon for how long folks will need support to pay their rent is going to be a lot longer than we might be prepared for right now," she told UPI.