A total of 783 people died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, a sign that the death rate across New York state is starting to plateau, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
“It’s stabilizing. But it’s stabilizing at a horrific rate,” Cuomo said. “These numbers depict horrendous suffering and human pain.”
The death toll has hovered between 600 and 800 in recent days, hitting an all-time high on Thursday with 799 deaths.
The governor also said the number of patients requiring ventilators to help them breathe was starting to decline for the first time since the pandemic emerged — even as the official sick toll soared past 8,000.
“Intubations are a bad sign,” Cuomo said. “So this is a good sign that fewer people are getting intubated.”
Cuomo praised President Donald Trump for responding quickly to New York officials’ demands for help.
He predicted that politics would play a bigger role as the country and states weigh relaxing rules that are keeping much of the economy shut down.
“Keep politics out of it,” he said. “It’s very hard especially when we start talking about reopening.”
Cuomo repeated calls for the hardest-hit state to get a better deal from the federal government in future coronavirus stimulus plans. He also called for a reinstatement of the popular SALT deduction for local taxes.
He acknowledged that New Yorkers are itching to return to normal life but suggested that the unpredictability of the virus makes it impossible to make any set-in-stone decisions.
Pointing to models that incorrectly predicted a more rapid spread of the virus, Cuomo said he wants to make sure he doesn’t underestimate a potential second wave of infections and death.
“The worst thing that can happen is we make a misstep and we let our emotions get ahead of our logic and fact,” he said.
Public health experts say deaths are a lagging indicator of the pandemic’s brutal assault on the state. With hospitalization and intensive care numbers steady or dropping, they expect deaths will also start to drop in coming days.