Officials in New York predict the growing COVID-19 outbreak would kill more people across the city. Temporary morgues are now being built to help deal with more deaths in the coming weeks.
Nearly 800 people have already died of the coronavirus infection in the U.S., while the number of patients fighting the virus climbed to more than 60,000. New York state reported more than 30,000 confirmed cases and nearly 300 deaths, ABC7 Eyewitness News reported Thursday.
Majority of people killed by COVID-19 came from New York city. A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is now working on “emergency contingency plans to help prepare for every possible outcome” of the outbreak.
The Office of Chief Medical Examiner said part of the plans is enhancing refrigerated structures and mobile command centers in Manhattan to provide extra space if the city’s morgues reach maximum capacity. The city also seeks additional beds, medical equipment, doctors and nurses to address the increasing number of COVID-19 patients.
What Happened To New York
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the COVID-19 outbreak in New York rapidly expanded because the city served as a gateway to international travelers. The local population of 8.6 million people also likely contributed to the spread of the novel coronavirus across communities.
“Our closeness makes us vulnerable,” Cuomo said. “But it’s true that your greatest weakness is also your greatest strength. And our closeness is what makes us who we are. That is what New York is.”
Troy Tassier, a professor at Fordham University, said there was a delay in implementing social distancing and other strict measures to contain the coronavirus in New York, which possibly enabled the virus to spread faster.
In California, officials required a lockdown covering all 40 million residents on March 20. The San Francisco area started limiting travels of nearly 7 million people on March 17.
Meanwhile, people continued daily activities in New York despite the first positive case coming on March 2. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cuomo initially announced that the city’s hospital system could handle COVID-19 and the risk to most New Yorkers was low.
New York city’s school system with 1.1 million students remained open until March 15 and officials only started requiring people to stay at home on March 22.