1 of 2 | A woman wears a protective face mask in New York City on Friday. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that nearly 300 people died in the previous 24 hours in the state. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
May 2 (UPI) -- The 705-bed center Isabella Center in New York City confirmed Saturday that 98 residents likely died of the novel coronavirus.
That accounting comes after U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., wrote a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York Attorney General Letitia James calling for an investigation into nursing home facilities in response to reports that a New York City nursing home was not accurately reporting COVID-19 deaths to authorities.
A little more than half of those deaths are suspected coronavirus cases, the facility said, saying in a statement that staff have not had sufficient access to testing equipment.
"While we did test where possible, widespread and consistent testing was not available. Fortunately, nursing homes in New York City, including Isabella, are now getting more access to testing," the statement said.
Also on Saturday Cuomo said the number of infections and hospitalizations in the state continues to slow, but the death toll increased slightly after slowing down for several days.
According to Cuomo, 299 residents of New York died in the previous 24 hours -- 276 were of in hospitals and 23 in nursing homes -- mostly in New York City.
"The number that I watch everyday, which is the worse, is the number of deaths," Cuomo said. "That number has remained obnoxiously and terrifyingly high. So that is bad news."
Cuomo also said 12.3 percent of individuals tested for antibodies were positive -- out of 15,000, the largest sample size of any state.
Those numbers were higher in the Bronx, where 27.6 percent of tests were positive -- with no other New York City borough testing at a rate higher than 20 percent -- and among Latinos (25.4 percent) and African Americans (17.4 percent).
Meanwhile, in New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Grisham has ordered all roads into and out of Gallup to be shut down after the small town experienced an "uninhibited spread" of the novel coronavirus.
She said she authorized the lockdown Friday in response to an emergency request by Gallup Mayor Louis Bonaguidi, who was sworn into office Thursday.
"I recognize this request is unusual and constitutes a drastic measure, and the emergency powers set out under the Riot Control Act should be invoked sparingly," Bonaguidi said. "However, the COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Gallup is a crisis of the highest order. Immediate action is necessary."
The governor's office said McKinley County, where Gallup is located in northwest New Mexico, has 1,027 confirmed cases of COVID-19, more than 30 percent of the state's total number of cases. The county reported 207 cases in the two days leading up to the order.
McKinley County has a population of about 72,000 people, making it the seventh most populous county in the state.
"The needs of McKinley County are the most important in the state," said New Mexico Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, whose district includes Gallup. "The escalating numbers and deaths indicate that we must take immediate action. Everyone should take this seriously and stay home. These measures are aggressive but necessary."
Bass Pro Shops marketing manager David Smith (R) carries a box of donated face masks into Mercy Health in Chesterfield, Mo., on May 13. The company is donating 1 million FDA-approved ASTM Level 1 Procedure Face Masks to healthcare workers and first responders working on the front lines of the pandemic. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
In addition to closing all roads for three days, the order shutters all businesses from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. each day and prohibits vehicles from carrying more than two people.
Gallup borders the Navajo Nation, which has had its own spike in cases. The reservation has become a hot spot for the pandemic, with among the highest infection rates in the United States.
That is because some 30 percent of residents live without running water and because so many residents live in multi-generational households, Dr. Loretta Christensen, chief medical officer of the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, said Thursday.
Christensen said earlier this week that the Gallup outbreak has centered among homeless residents.
"It's unfortunate there was a big outbreak from the local detox center, where people were living in a congregate setting," Christensen said.
The Navajo Department of Health reported 164 new cases Thursday for a total number of cases of 2,141. There have been 71 deaths.
New Mexico has more than 3,500 cases of coronavirus and 131 deaths, according to The New York Times tracker. The United States has 1.1 million cases and nearly 65,000 deaths.
In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved the delivery of three Battelle Critical Care Decontamination Systems, which should be able to sterilize up to 240,000 units of personal protective equipment per day for reuse.
In mid-April the Pentagon awarded Battelle with a $415 million contact to provide 60 decontamination systems for distribution by FEMA to areas facing shortages of personal protective equipment.