NEW YORK (AP) — New Yorkers hunkered down Sunday as the city entered a critical phase in the coronavirus crisis — a period authorities warned would bring soaring death tolls and even more challenges for an overburdened health care system.
Those venturing outdoors for groceries or exercise largely heeded the city’s new guidance to wear face coverings such as scarves or bandannas — a sight far less common a week ago.
Signs of quarantine were becoming ubiquitous as many New Yorkers faced their fourth week of isolation. In Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood, even a Little Free Library had been emptied to avoid spreading germs, the books replaced by a handwritten note.
The city canceled all of spring break for its public schools and, in a controversial reversal, called for classes to be held on the start of Passover and Good Friday. School officials announced the decision Friday, saying it was important to keep remote learning uninterrupted.
The announcement roiled the city’s teachers union.
“No matter how angry and frustrated we are right now, we must focus on the most important thing, which is to get through the crisis,” Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in a letter to his members. “I am sadly sure that there will be many more tough challenges in the days and weeks to come.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated his call for a federal enlistment of health care workers, citing an anticipated “huge growth” in the number of COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.
He told CNN Saturday night the city is going to need 45,000 doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists to get through the crisis.
“It’s going to be very tight going into next week,” the mayor said, adding the city still needs more ventilators.
New York remains the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, with more than 13,700 confirmed cases as of Saturday morning. More than 3,500 people statewide have died, and about 15,000 coronavirus patients are hospitalized.
Those numbers are expected to grow exponentially over the next two weeks.
“We have to add 60,000 more beds in the course of the next month or so because there’s going to be explosion of cases and then people are going to need treatment for weeks and weeks,” de Blasio said. “Each person will need a lot of treatment and that’s going to require a huge amount of medical personnel.”
1. As the coronavirus pandemic causes restrictions across the U.S., Appalachian Trail thru-hikers face the difficult decision to postpone their dreams or ignore warnings and forge ahead.
2. Hospitals are starting to line up COVID-19 survivors to donate some blood so that doctors can use it to treat the sick.