The 2020 coronavirus pandemic in New York is part of the ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The first case of COVID-19 in New York was confirmed on March 1. As of April 2, 2020[update], there have been 92,381 confirmed cases in the state, and of those 2,373 people have died. New York has the highest number of confirmed cases of any state in the United States, with five times as many cases as neighboring New Jersey, the state with the second most confirmed cases. Nearly 45 percent of known national cases are in the state, with one quarter of total known US cases being in New York City.
March 1 saw the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in New York, a 39-year-old woman health care worker who lived in Manhattan. She had returned from Iran on February 25 and had no symptoms at the time. She went into home isolation with her husband. On March 3, a second case was confirmed, a lawyer in his 50s who lives in New Rochelle, Westchester County, immediately north of New York City, and works in Midtown Manhattan. He had traveled to Miami in February and regularly visited Israel, but had not visited areas known to have widespread transmission of the coronavirus. Two of his four children had recently returned from Israel. After first feeling ill on February 22, he was admitted to a hospital in Westchester on February 27 and diagnosed with pneumonia, and released from isolation after testing negative for the flu. Instances of panic buying in New York were reported after this case was confirmed.
On March 4, the number of cases in New York increased to 11 as nine people linked to the lawyer tested as positive, including his wife, a son, a daughter, a neighbor, and a friend and his family. On March 5, Mayor de Blasio says that coronavirus fears should not keep New Yorkers off the subway, riding from Fulton Street to High Street in a public press attempt to demonstrate the subway's safety. On March 6, eleven new cases were reported bringing the state caseload to 33. All the new cases were tied to the first community transmission case, the lawyer. At the end of the day, an additional 11 new cases were reported by the governor, bringing the total caseload to 44, with 8 of the new cases in Westchester County, and 3 in Nassau County on Long Island. Also on March 6, an article appeared in the New York Post stating that while Mayor de Blasio assigned responsibility for the lack of N95 masks and other personal protective equipment to the federal government, the city never ordered the supplies until that date.
National Guard personnel disinfect the dais of New Rochelle City Hall.
On March 7, GovernorAndrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York after 89 cases had been confirmed in the state, 70 of them in Westchester County, 12 in New York City and 7 elsewhere. On March 8, the state reported 16 new confirmed cases and a total of 106 cases statewide. New York City issued new commuter guidelines amid the current outbreak, asking sick individuals to stay off public transit, encouraging citizens to avoid densely packed buses, subways, or trains.
On March 11, Cuomo announced that the City University of New York and State University of New York schools would be closed for the following week, from March 12 to 19. These college systems would move most classes to an online-based system starting March 19 and continuing through the rest of the spring semester. Dormitories will remain open for students "who cannot return home for hardship reasons."
On March 13, Herkimer County saw its first confirmed case but declined to disclose the patient's location. The patient later was revealed to have been from the Mohawk/Ilion area, just south of Herkimer, the county seat. On March 14, the first two fatalities in the state occurred. An 82-year-old woman in Brooklyn with pre-existing emphysema died in the hospital. A 65-year-old person with other significant health problems who had not previously been tested for COVID-19 died at their home in Suffern, Rockland County. It was also announced that three people in Erie County tested positive for COVID-19.
On March 15, the third fatality in the state was announced. A 79-year-old woman with underlying health issues, who had been admitted to a New York City hospital, died. On March 16, Clinton County reported its first case, at CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh. No further information has been revealed about the patient. As of March 23, 2020[update], there were 125 deaths in NYC, and 157 statewide. Three of those deaths were of persons under 44 years of age. The number of confirmed cases increased by 4,000 between March 22 and 23, which brought the total number of confirmed cases statewide to nearly 21,000. 12,305 of these are in NYC. On March 24, Cuomo stated that "The apex is higher than we thought and the apex is sooner than we thought." He warned there was not enough assistance from the federal government and that the state had 25,000 cases and at least 210 deaths. 211 NYPD officers and civilian employees have tested positive for Covid-19. In total, 2,774 NYPD employees, 7.6 percent of the workforce, are sick.
On March 26, Cuomo announced that the state would allow two patients to share one ventilator using a technique he called "splitting" where a second set of tubes would be added to the ventilator. COVID-19 patients need ventilators for between 11 and 21 days, while under normal circumstances patients usually only require them for three to four days. He also said the state was considering converting anesthesia machines to use as ventilators. Between March 25 and March 26, there were 100 deaths statewide, with the number of hospitalized patients increasing by 40 percent in NYC.
Shortage of protective gear
After trying to purchase 200,000 N95 masks on February 7, the Office of Emergency Management learned that vendors were out of stock. Emergency provisions of masks and hand sanitizers did not arrive until early March. According to The New York Post, one medical supply vendor with standing city contracts said that the initial requests for protective gear from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) were bogged down by inefficient bureaucratic delays. One vendor said, "We'd send them a list of products we can deliver within 24, 48 hours", but on average it took 72 hours for the agency to place an order. He added "the city just moves so slow" when there was very high demand coming from hospitals and the private sector. According to the contractor, eight out of 10 supply orders could not be filled because DCAS did not pay on time, which a spokeswoman for NYC denied. The office of the comptroller approved 12 contracts with a total value of $150 million before the mayor's office took over the process on March 16. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that the city may run out of supplies by April if the federal government does not send 3 million N95 masks, 50 million surgical masks, 15,000 ventilators and 45 million surgical gowns, gloves, and face shields.
One EMS worker expressed frustration at being asked to wear the less effective surgical masks. The police union filed a complaint on March 13 due to NYPD officers not being given masks and other protective gear. A spokeswoman called the Police Benevolent Association's complaint "empty rhetoric".
The situation at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens has been described by one of the doctors there as "apocalyptic". As elsewhere, family members of coronavirus patients are not allowed in the hospital. On March 25, several news outlets reported the hospital was at its "breaking point" after 13 patients died within a 24-hour period.
On March 28, The New York Times reported that the city's 911 emergency response system was "overwhelmed" due to the large number of coronavirus patients needing transport to the hospital. Dispatchers received more than 7,000 calls on March 26, a record since the September 11 attacks. Emergency workers had to decide which cases to prioritize and some patients were being left at home without medical care. In addition, paramedics lacked sufficient protective gear.
On March 22, New York City closed all playing courts to group play
On March 2, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that people should ignore the virus and "go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus". At a news conference on March 3, New York City Commissioner of Health Oxiris Barbot said "We are encouraging New Yorkers to go about their everyday lives".
The following day, at another news conference, authorities described the epidemic caused by the virus and the pandemic as "caused by fear" and reassuring the public that the situation would be under control given the capabilities of New York's health care system.
On March 7, a State of Emergency was declared by Governor Andrew Cuomo. On March 8, the Governor called for private testing due to demand outpacing the ability to test. The Governor called on the CDC to approve private testing and also approve automated testing. Responding to the rush on hand sanitizer buying in the state and reported price gouging, Cuomo revealed on March 9 that the state would begin producing its own hand sanitizers, manufactured by prisoners in the state's correctional system.
A number of schools and school districts announced closings or schedule modifications by March 8 due to the impact of the virus. Additionally, all school trips were cancelled for those in New York City.
On March 12, Cuomo announced restrictions on mass gatherings, directing events with more than 500 people to be cancelled or postponed and any gathering with less than 500 people in attendance to cut capacity by 50 percent. In addition, only medically necessary visits would be allowed at nursing homes.
Cuomo announced that all Broadway theatres have been ordered to shut down at 5 p.m. that day, and that public gatherings in congregate spaces with more than 500 people were prohibited beginning 5 p.m. the following day. Broadway theatres are scheduled to reopen on April 13. Until then, the legal capacity of any venue with a capacity of 500 people or less was also reduced by half to discourage large gatherings.
Shelves cleared of paper towels in a Walden supermarket on March 13 after school closings were announced.
As part of the announcement, Cuomo waived the requirement that schools be open for 180 days that year in order to be eligible for state aid. The next day, all public school districts in Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster counties in the Mid-Hudson Valley, which had reported their first cases earlier in the week, announced they would close for the next two weeks. The Warwick schools in Orange County added that they would remain closed through April 14, when their annual spring break would normally end.
On March 13, all public schools in Herkimer County announced they, too, would close until April 14. The county B.O.C.E.S. program and all its participating school districts' superintendents met and unanimously voted for the decision less than a day after the first confirmed case had been announced in the county. That day, pressure from the teachers union (reported as "furious" about the schools remaining opened) and some city council members, was mounting on the Mayor of New York City to close schools. De Blasio stated that he will keep the schools open, citing the need for meal programs to continue and child care to continue, Los Angeles and Chicago had closed their schools at the end of the prior week.
On March 15, Cuomo announced that New York City schools would close the following day through April 20, and gave the city 24 hours to come up with a plan for child care and food. Public schools in Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau would close on March 16 and stay closed for two weeks. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced that all schools, bars, and restaurants in the city were to be closed starting 9 a.m. on March 17 except for food takeout and delivery.
All 62 counties in New York state had declared states of emergency by March 16. On March 16, facing a similar crisis, the State of California took action. Citing a total of 258 confirmed cases in the seven counties, the Public health officers of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties announced, with the City of Berkeley,
a legal order directing their respective residents to shelter at home for three weeks. Many[who?] expected that New York City would take similar action.
On March 17, as the number of confirmed cases rose to 814 citywide, de Blasio announced that the city was considering a similar shelter-in-place order within the next 48 hours. Across the boroughs of New York City, there were 277 confirmed cases in Manhattan, 248 in Queens, 157 in Brooklyn, 96 in the Bronx, and 36 in Staten Island. Seven city residents had died of the virus. Mayor Bill de Blasio's comments were quickly rebuked by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office,
and again later by the governor himself in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper.
Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, issued a statement during the mayor's briefing, clarifying state government is not considering shelter-in-place orders at the time.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said later Tuesday morning, "We hear 'New York City is going to quarantine itself.' That is not true. That cannot happen. It cannot happen legally. No city in the state can quarantine itself without state approval. And I have no interest whatsoever and no plan whatsoever to quarantine any city."
On March 18, Cuomo reaffirmed that he would not approve a “shelter-in-place” order for New York City. “That is not going to happen, shelter in place, for New York City,” Cuomo said, “For any city or county to take an emergency action, the state has to approve it. And I wouldn’t approve shelter in place.”
He also announced that nearly 5,000 tests were administered on March 17 alone, raising the total number to 14,597 people tested. Cuomo suggested that this may in part have led to the jump in confirmed cases to 2,382 statewide, including 1,871 cases in New York City. Also on March 18, the Department of Defense said the Navy's hospital shipUSNS Comfort is being prepared for deployment in New York, "to assist potentially overwhelmed communities with acute patient care".
On March 20, de Blasio called for drastic measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak. "We have to go to a shelter-in-place model," he said, praising California's "stay at home" model for sheltering in place. Cuomo announced the statewide stay-at-home order with a mandate that all non-essential workers work from home. On the same day, President Donald Trump declared that major emergency existed in the state of New York, and ordered that Federal assistance be rendered to assist state and local recovery efforts.
On March 22, Trump announced that he had directed Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide four large federal medical stations with 1,000 beds for New York. On March 23, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to use convalescent antibody-rich blood plasma, as a stopgap measure for the disease. On March 24, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, advised people who have left New York City to self-quarantine for 14 days. On March 29, 2020, CBS News reporter Maria Mercader, a New York City resident, died from a COVID-19 related illness.
On March 26, Trump announced that USNS Comfort will be heading up to New York City to assist local hospitals. The ship departed on March 28 and arrived at Pier 90 of the Manhattan Cruise Terminal on March 30. On March 27, the United States, with a confirmed 111,980 known cases surpasses Italy and China to become the country with the most coronavirus COVID-19 cases in the world—more than 52,000 of these cases are reported in New York State alone. On that same day, Governor Cuomo announced all schools statewide would remain further closed until at least April 15.
On March 28, Cuomo announced that New York State's 2020 Democratic Primary, originally scheduled for April 28, will be postponed until June 23. President Donald Trump said that he is considering imposing an "enforceable" quarantine on New York. He later announced: "On the recommendation of the White House CoronaVirus Task Force, and upon consultation with the Governor’s of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, I have asked the @CDCgov to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government. A quarantine will not be necessary." Governor Cuomo threatened Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo with a lawsuit over a new state quarantine policy, which would make sure people from New York would self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Rhode Island. On March 29, Raimondo repealed the order that specifically referred to New Yorkers, and broadened it to include any out-of-state traveller entering Rhode Island with intent to stay.
Cuomo also on March 28 ordered all nonessential construction sites in the state to shut down. This led the developers of the Legoland park under construction in Goshen to postpone their planned July 4 opening date until 2021. A specific date was not set but Orange County's director of tourism expected it would probably be the normal April opening date.
Plastic shield erected to prevent disease transmission at convenience store cash register
In March 2020, the U.S. Army dispatched soldiers from Army Corps of Engineers field hospitals in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Fort Hood, Texas to New York City to convert New York City's Javits Convention Center into a 2910-bed civilian medical hospital. More medical hospitals will be set up by these Army officers in New York City as well. On March 30, 2020, the U.S. Navy medical ship USNS Comfort arrived in New York City to assist with non-COVID operations, relieving land hospitals to stop the city's growing COVID-19 pandemic. It was later announced that field hospitals would be set up in Central Park and at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens. On March 31, it was revealed that Andrew Cuomo's brother Chris, a New York City resident and CNN journalist, had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and that New York City saw its first COVID-19 related death involving a child.
The ban on large gatherings meant that the annual "First Cast" ceremony at the Junction Pool, a popular fly fishing spot, in the Sullivan County hamlet of Roscoe, marking the April 1 opening of trout season, could not be held. The season is still open and the state's Department of Environmental Conservation encouraged anglers to take to the state's streams as long as they continued to practice social distancing. Many stores in Roscoe that catered to them were nevertheless closed and limited to filling orders online.
Best Buy was only letting a limited number of people into their Union Square store in New York City, March 18, 2020
Lack of enforcement of self-quarantine policies
Self-quarantines for persons who test positive or are symptomatic are not enforced due to a lack of resources. Several New York City area nurses have expressed concerns that patients are not complying with self-quarantine guidelines due to financial necessity or fear of losing their jobs. A New York State Nurses Association board member has expressed concerns that low-income patients who share rooms with other individuals may not be able to effectively self-isolate at their residences.
Difficulties of implementation in Hasidic communities
Implementing social distancing has been difficult in some communities dominated by Hasidic Jews. The Orange County village of Kiryas Joel, home to 25,000 Satmar Hasidim, closed all 100 of its synagogues, as well as schools and mikvahs on March 19, despite the centrality of religious observance in the community. It is estimated that 25–28 percent of its residents have tested positive, including the community's spiritual leader, Grand Rebbe Aaron Teitelbaum. On March 27 the county reported that Kiryas Joel, as the town of Palm Tree, had 234 confirmed cases, the most of any municipality in the county.
Some other reports have suggested that the Hasidic community has generally been slow to implement measures designed to slow the spread of the virus. This has reportedly led to one antisemitic incident. On March 23 a car dealership near Kiryas Joel refused to service a resident's car, telling him he had the virus.
An Orthodox Jewish physician, Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, who sees patients at his offices in both Kiryas Joel and Monsey, another predominantly Hasidic community in nearby Rockland County, claims that the real infection rate in Kiryas Joel is much higher, claims that have been disputed by local authorities. Zelenko, who must self-isolate since he is missing a lung, says in daily YouTube videos he posts that his office has treated 500 patients (mostly in Kiryas Joel) for COVID-19, using the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin or zinc sulfate, which has in some trials yielded positive results in reducing symptoms. Zelenko claimed that 90 percent of the Hasidic community will become infected; the county's health commissioner and the village's emergency services department disputed that, pointing out that it was based on nine positive results out of 14 samples.
According to New York City Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea, crime has decreased sharply during the epidemic although there is concern that domestic violence is not being reported. As of 31 March, more than a thousand police officers have tested positive and 15% (5,600) are currently on sick leave.
On March 17, four members of the Brooklyn Nets, including Kevin Durant, were confirmed positive for COVID-19.
The state's high school basketball playoffs had begun in early March with no spectators allowed. On March 12 the New York State Public High School Athletic Association suspended remaining winter sports championship contests in all sports that still had not decided them: boys' and girls' basketball, ice hockey and bowling.
^"NBC News twitter message". NBC News. March 23, 2020. Retrieved March 23, 2020. 5,707 new coronavirus cases in New York state, Gov. Cuomo announces, bringing state total to 20,875, representing more than half of all US cases