Coronavirus Watch

News and Updates: New ventilators; FDNY applauds NYU Langone medical staff; Virtual park visits; Staggering rate of death; Draft for doctors; Expanding DOE meals to all; Lyft serving communities in need; Commissary kitchen; Former NYPD head takes on COVID role; Cases by zip code; Playgrounds to close

11 Mar 2020 | 09:42

Updated Saturday, April 4, 6:21 p.m.

Quote of the Day: “Nobody can tell you the number at the top of the mountain.” - Governor Andrew Cuomo

The Numbers

Confirmed cases as of Friday, April 3, 2020:

NYC - 63,306

NY State - 113,704

Ventilators from China and Oregon

On Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that there would be new shipments of ventilators - 1,000 arriving in New York that the Chinese government helped facilitate, and an additional 140 from Oregon. "We are so grateful to @OregonGovBrown and the people of Oregon," Cuomo tweeted. "On behalf of the people of NY, I think you and rest assured that NY will repay the favor when Oregon needs it." He also predicted that the city's coronavirus crisis would peak in about a week.

FDNY Salutes NYU Langone Medical Staff

On Friday evening, city firefighters turned out in force in front of NYU Langone to show appreciation for the medical staff's efforts in battling COVID-19. In an emotional moment at 7 p.m. - when city residents cheer medical workers from their apartments every night - FDNY sirens blared, firefighters applauded and a voice over a loudspeaker said, "We love you."

Virtual Parks Visits

With continuing concerns about social distancing in parks, the city sent out a notification encouraging New YOrkers to "Enjoy NYC's parks from home!" The parks@home site video tours, fitness classes, "meditation moments," Tuesday broadcasts with urban park rangers and activities for kids.

Staggering Rate of Death

In just the last 24 hours, 562 people have died in New York State. In the last week, the rate of coronavirus deaths has rapidly increased. Just in three days, the number of deaths nearly doubled with 1,550 on Tuesday to 2,935 on Friday. New York City residents make up about half of the state’s death count, with 1,500 deaths in the city. The city’s 57,159 cases also make up about half of the 102,863 confirmed cases in the state.

“It’s hard to go through this all day, and then it’s hard to stay up all night, watching those numbers come in and the number of deaths tick up,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his daily briefing.

The number of hospitalizations and the number of patients on ventilators have both more than doubled since last Friday.

Draft for Doctors

The mayor is calling for a national draft of medical personnel to help fight the coronavirus in New York, which has become the epicenter of the pandemic in recent weeks. Mayor Bill de Blasio has been asking the White House for weeks to send supplies and personnel to New York City for weeks, and doubled down on that request Thursday night as he called on the federal government to institute an essential draft of all private medical personnel — first in New York and then in the rest of the country.

“Every ventilator and doctor can save life, which is why we are marshaling every possible resource to our city in record time,” said de Blasio. "But the facts remain the same: the federal government must step up and provide the reinforcements we need. The battle will be long, and we cannot fight it alone.”

The mayor said the city needs 1,000 nurses, 300 respiratory therapist and 150 doctors by Sunday. Additionally, the mayor said the city is distributing 400 ventilators from the federal stockpile but will need between 2,500 to 3,000 by Sunday next week.

Expanding DOE Meals to All

The Department of Education is now offering grab-and-go meals to all children and adults across the five boroughs. The meal hubs provide three meals a day, Monday through Friday, to any who needs them. No registration or identification is required.

Meal hubs will operate from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. for children and families and 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for adults. Since March 16, the Department of Education’s free meals programs have served approximately 1.2 million meals to families and students at over 440 meal hubs sites across the city.

Meal Hub locations can be found at http://schools.nyc.gov/freemeals or text NYC FOOD to 877-877.

Lyft Serving Communities in Need

In partnership with several New York-based nonprofit organizations, Lyft is offering free transportation to seniors, essential workers, patients with important medical appointments and other communities in need during the pandemic. Additionally, Lyft is providing rides to a number of nonprofit volunteers who are working to get groceries and meals to those who need them.

“It’s great to see Lyft helping to fill the crucial transportation gaps for the many community organizations who need them filled. This is corporate responsibility in action,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.

Running Out of Ventilators

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a grim prediction at his daily briefing Thursday, stating that at the rate the state is using ventilators for coronavirus patients, it will likely run out in about six days. There are about 2,200 ventilators in the state’s stockpile, and about 350 new patients need them each day.

“If a person comes in and needs a ventilator and you don’t have a ventilator, the person dies,” said Cuomo. “That’s the blunt equation here.”

In New York City alone, Mayor de Blasio said at his own briefing Wednesday, a minimum of 2,500 to 3,000 more ventilators will be needed.

The governor has spoken to President Trump about the issue, but he said he could not count on the federal government to make up the shortfall before the state runs out of ventilators. The state has been trying to purchase more ventilators on the open market as well as trying to convert other respiratory devices into ventilators. Additionally, Cuomo said ventilators that are not being used upstate could be sent to New York City.

Cuomo was able to offer some positive news. About 21,000 medical workers from outside New York have volunteered to work in New York hospitals. About 85,000 health care workers, including those from New York, have stepped up to help during the crisis.

Commissary Kitchen

A famed fine dining restaurant on Madison Avenue is transforming into a commissary kitchen for New Yorkers and health care workers impacted by the pandemic. In partnership with American Express and Rethink Food — a nonprofit organization that uses food excess from restaurants and corporate kitchens in the city — Eleven Madison Park will produce over 2,000 meals per day to feed New Yorkers.

Daniel Humm, chef and owner of Eleven Madison Park, has joined this effort, and will oversee his kitchens at Eleven Madison Park. Former Eleven Madison Park staff members, initially laid off when restaurants were forced to close last month, have been rehired by Rethink Food to produce the meals.

Former Police Head Takes on COVID-19 Role

Former NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill started work Thursday helping the city wage its war on the coronavirus pandemic as a new senior advisor to the mayor. O’Neill will be tasked with overseeing the supply and distribution of personal protective and medical equipment within the city’s hospitals. He will also create, operate and manage a team of supply inspectors within the hospitals “to ensure the rapid turnaround of new supplies,” according to de Blasio. O'Neill will also make sure that every hospital is providing its essential equipment to front line health care workers. The former commissioner will be taking on this role as a volunteer.

Cases by Zip Code

The Upper West Side and Upper East Side neighborhoods have the most coronavirus cases in all of Manhattan, according to a map released by the city. The map shows about how many cases are in each of the city’s zip codes based on the patients’ addresses. In the four zip codes that make up the Upper West Side, there are between 182 and 306 cases in each. On the East Side, three of the five zip codes have between 182 and 306 cases in each. The other two zip codes have between 112 and 182 cases in each.

Playgrounds to Close

For weeks the governor has voiced his displeasure at the number of people continuing to gather at city parks and playgrounds. He announced Wednesday that city playgrounds would close because New Yorkers were not properly social distancing in these public spaces. He said the NYPD needs to be more aggressive in enforcing the rules and that he was prepared to legally require social distancing.

“How reckless and irresponsible and selfish for people not to do it on their own,” Cuomo said. “I mean what else do you have to know? What else do you have to hear? Who else has to die for you to understand you have a responsibility in this?”

Spring Break Canceled

Although New York City public school teachers and students were expecting to go on break from April 9 to 17, Gov. Cuomo has told school districts to continue offering remote learning to students. The United Federation of Teachers said that its members would still be off Thursday, April 9 and Friday, April 10. They will return to work Monday, April 13 for what the organization called a "special week of family service and support."

Maloney, AOC Call for FDA Revision on Blood Donation

Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration Wednesday calling on the agency to revise its policy of turning away gay and bisexual men who want to donate blood. The two congresswomen, who are both serve on the Committee on Oversight and Reform, said the policy could have long-term impact on the nation’s blood supply amid the coronavirus crisis. Across the country, more than 4,000 blood drives have been canceled, according to AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross. The cancelations have resulted in 130,000 fewer donations. In New York alone, 600 blood drives have been canceled, resulting in approximately 25,000 lost potential donations.

“This antiquated policy is not based on current science, stigmatizes the LGBTQIA+ community, and undermines crucial efforts to increase the nation’s blood supply as the United States grapples with the coronavirus crisis,” the members wrote.

NYPD to Spend $500K on Masks, Gloves

The NYPD is stocking up on supplies to protect officers while they continue to report for duty during the coronavirus pandemic. The New York City Police Foundation has purchased 150,000 gloves, 150,000 masks and 150,000 packets of hand sanitizers for officers for $500,000. The supplies were purchased from Winbrook and are expected to be shipped to the city in the coming days.

“This equipment will help keep our officers physically safe. But beyond that, it sends them a clear message — that their unwavering commitment to protecting people is deeply appreciated,” NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said of the donation.

FEMA to Supply 250 Ambulances to NYC

The mayor announced Tuesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be bringing 250 more ambulances and approximately 500 EMTs and paramedics to the city. The additional personnel and ambulances will help the city increase capacity for medical transport and assist the FDNY with responding to a record number of calls coming into dispatch.

"Our EMTs and paramedics are doing unbelievable work under the toughest of circumstances," said de Blasio. "This week, I promised them help was on the way, and today it is. Our partnership with FEMA will give our first responders the help they need to continue being the heroes of our city."

Fundraiser for Hospital Meals

Downtown residents are raising money to provide meals for emergency room workers at New York Presbyterian Lower Manhattan. So far, a community from Southbridge Towers and Peck Slip School have raised $3,000 to send 200 meals to health care workers from Squires Diner. Those interested in donating can send money directly to Cari Gelber via PayPal — paypal.me/carigelber — or Venmo — @cari-gelber-decoons.

Where to check for the latest updates on this fast-moving story:

NYC Health:

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/coronavirus.page

U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

World Health Organization (WHO):

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019