New York sees its biggest one-day surge in coronavirus hospitalizations

New York state hospitals have reported the biggest single-day surge in the number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday while announcing that the crisis has struck him personally as his brother, CNN journalist Chris Cuomo, has tested positive with mild symptoms.

The governor, appearing more exhausted than usual at his daily news briefing, said that 1,412 more coronavirus patients were hospitalized on Monday, the biggest single-day increase since the start of the outbreak in the state. It brings the total number of hospitalizations to nearly 11,000, including 2,710 people in intensive care.

“I’m tired of being behind this virus,” he said, calling on New Yorkers to accept that the end of social distancing is still many weeks away.

“Everybody wants to know when it’s over. Nobody knows,” he said.

As of Tuesday, various models charting the course of the disease put the peak of the outbreak, when the health-care system will be most stressed, between one to four weeks away. The governor said they’re relying on a median estimate of about 21 days for hospitalizations to reach a high.

Until then, he is racing to secure enough ventilators, a key piece of lifesaving equipment that is now in scarce supply, to handle the increasing deluge of severely ill patients.

There were already around 6,500 ventilators throughout the downstate region, which includes Westchester County, New York City and Long Island, Cuomo said on Tuesday. The federal government has given 4,400 to the state, and the state stockpile included 1,800, more than half of which have already been deployed to hospitals.

But there is still a need for roughly 20,000 such machines and sourcing them has gotten ever more complicated and expensive, Cuomo said. The state ordered 17,000 ventilators from China, but the first batch of some 2,600 machines is still as many as three weeks away from delivery. On top of that, the state bought thousands of Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure, or BiPAP, machines, which can be used like ventilators, he added.

Cuomo said he’s still hopeful the state will be able to patchwork together enough life-saving devices so that health-care workers won’t have to make life or death decisions because of a lack of equipment, as was the case in some hospitals in Italy.

“We’re still in it,” he said.

In terms of more nurses and doctors, much-needed relief for New York’s most inundated hospitals could come as soon as Thursday, said Jim Malatras, the president of SUNY Empire State College and a member of the governor’s virus response team.

Some 78,000 people, including retired nurses and doctors, have agreed to help work during the outbreak, and a web portal to manage those volunteers will be up and running on Tuesday, Mr. Malatras said.

In New York City, the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., 40,900 people had tested positive for the disease as of Tuesday morning, and 932 have died.

Regarding his brother, the governor said, “He’s going to be fine.”

“He’s young, in good shape, strong — not as strong as he thinks,” said Cuomo, who was interviewed remotely on his brother’s show, “Cuomo Prime Time,” on Monday night.

“He’s going to be quarantined in his basement at home,” the governor said of his brother, whom he called his best friend.

The governor also used his brother’s diagnosis as a reminder for New Yorkers to protect vulnerable loved ones, even if it means not seeing them.

Their 88-year-old mother, Matilda Cuomo, had visited Chris’s house only two weeks ago, the governor said.

“Love sometimes needs to be a little smarter than reactive,” he said. “It’s my family, it’s your family, it’s all of our families. The virus is insidious.

“Remember who is vulnerable and protect them,” he added.

On Tuesday, Chris Cuomo, 49, said in a statement on Twitter that he’s had fever, chills and shortness of breath, but is feeling well enough to broadcast his shows on CNN from his basement.

“We will all beat this by being smart and tough and united,” he said.