POUGHKEEPSIE — New York’s COVID-19 fatalities reached at least 20,324 on Friday — up from 20,108 on Thursday. The state saw 216 virus-related deaths Thursday, including 171 in hospitals and 45 in nursing homes. The death rate remains flat after 231 fatalities Wednesday, 232 on Tuesday and 230 on Monday.
The state tested 1,121,543 people as of Friday, revealing 330,407 total positive cases of COVID-19. New York’s hospitalization rates continued a downward trend to 8,196 patients Friday, down 469, according to the governor’s office. About 600 new virus patients enter hospitals statewide each day, down from about 1,000 new daily hospitalizations last week.
“We went up very quickly,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday of the state’s virus hospitalization and death rate. “We would have hoped that we would have come down very quickly. That’s not what’s happening — it’s more flattening out.”
Minority communities remain the most impacted by COVID-19, with higher rates of infection and virus-related fatalities. Of the 21 ZIP codes with the most new COVID-19 hospitalizations, 20 have greater-than-average black or Latino populations.
Hospitals continue to provide the state detailed demographics about newly admitted patients.
“This is something we’re focused on and we’re going to address,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We’re going to address it immediately and will have more information on this in the next several days.”
Some upstate regions of New York may be ready to resume construction and manufacturing — the first of four reopening phases per state guidelines — in the coming weeks. The state’s 10-point New York State on PAUSE executive order, which closed schools and nonessential businesses, expires May 15.
It’s unlikely downstate areas and counties will be ready to start reopening that soon, Gov. Cuomo said.
“If you look at these numbers, upstate New York — it’s entirely different,” he added. “It’s like a different state. If we react too quickly, it’s only going to be more problematic and be longer.”
The state continues to work on getting unemployment benefits to millions of New Yorkers — thousands of whom have not received benefits because of a logjam of applications with the Department of Labor since the statewide quarantine started in mid-March.
The state’s unemployment rate soared from about 2.8 percent to 20 percent, Gov. Cuomo said. Every state’s unemployment system, which is accustomed to hundreds of applications, has been overwhelmed. New York has thousands of employees addressing the state’s unemployment applications to meet demand during the pandemic.
“The volume of the calls has been so great it has literally crushed the phone system time and time again,” Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa said. “We’re throwing literally everything we can at it.”
The state paid $2.1 billion in unemployment benefits in 2019. The state paid $6.8 billion to 1.6 million people in the last seven weeks. “We haven’t experienced anything like this — period,” Ms. DeRosa said. “We’re literally building the plane while we’re trying to fly it.”
Officials are investigating evidence COVID-19 can cause severe illness in children — mimicking symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and Toxic Shock Syndrome.
A 5-year-old boy died in New York City on Thursday from similar virus-related complications.
“We thought children might be vehicles of transmission, but we didn’t think children would suffer from it,” Gov. Cuomo said. “So caution to all people who may have believed that their child couldn’t be affected by COVID.”
Seek medical attention immediately if your child has a fever lasting more than five days, severe abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting, a change in skin color such as turning pale or blue, trouble breathing, decreased amount or frequency of urination, racing heart rate or infants having difficulty feeding or drinking fluids, according to the governor’s office.
Gov. Cuomo also named the 20 members of New York’s Reimagine Education Advisory Council — comprised of educators, students, parents and education leaders — to help districts reimagine schools as they prepare to reopen, how virtual learning can bridge the gap and supplement face-to-face education while enforcing social-distancing guidelines.
The council, chaired by SUNY Empire State College President Jim Malatras, includes Albany City Schools Superintendent Kaweeda Adams, Hudson Valley Community College President Roger Ramsammy, Guilderland Board of Education President Seema Rivera, teacher Stephanie Conklin from the South Colonie Central School District, state Education Department interim Commissioner Shannon Tahoe, former state Education Department Chancellor Dennis Walcott and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.