“It is hard to put fully into words what we are all grappling with as we navigate our way through this pandemic,” a hospital official said.
By Alan Feuer
New York, the increasingly battered epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak, on Friday reported its highest number of deaths in a single day, prompting state officials to beg the rest of the United States for assistance and to enact an emergency order designed to stave off medical catastrophe.
In the 24 hours through 12 a.m. on Friday, 562 people — or one almost every two-and-a-half minutes — died from the virus in New York State, bringing the total death toll to nearly 3,000, double what it was only three days before. In the same period, 1,427 newly sickened patients poured into the hospitals — another one-day high — although the rate of increase in hospitalizations seemed to stabilize, suggesting that the extreme social-distancing measures put in place last month may have started working.
Despite the glimmer of hope, the new statistics were a stark reminder of the gale-force strength of the crisis that is threatening New York, where more than 102,000 people — nearly as many asin Italy and Spain, the hardest-hit European countries — have now tested positive for the virus. The situation, as it has been for weeks, was particularly dire in New York City, where some hospitals have reported running out of body bags and others have begun to plan for the unthinkable prospect of rationing care.
“It is hard to put fully into words what we are all grappling with as we navigate our way through this pandemic,” Vicki L. LoPachin, the chief medical officer of the Mount Sinai Health System, wrote in an email to the staff on Friday. “We are healing so many and comforting those we can’t save — one precious life at a time.”
Around the country, the total number of coronavirus cases spiked sharply as of Friday afternoon, exceeding 275,000, with more than 7,000 total deaths. After New York, New Jersey was the state with the highest rate of infection. Globally, more than one million people had been infected and nearly 60,000 had died.
Hot spots continued to emerge.
“We continue to watch, in addition, the Chicago area, the Detroit area, and have developing concerns around Colorado, the District of Columbia,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said at a daily news briefing on Friday. She added that the government would “move supplies creatively around the country to meet the needs of both the front line health care providers but also every American who needs our support right now.”
As the inexorable march of contagion in New York continued, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued an impassioned plea to the nation to hurry medical staff and equipment to the state before an expected shortfall of both overwhelmed its already groaning health care system, perhaps as early as next week.
Mr. Cuomo, vowing to return the favor, said he would redirect hundreds of lifesaving ventilators and teams of local doctors to other states as soon as the crisis in New York passed its peak.