Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, speaks at a news conference as the USNS Comfort hospital ship arrives at Pier 90 in New York, U.S., on Monday, March 30, 2020.
Angus Mordant | Bloomberg | Getty Images
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the number of coronavirus patients being placed on ventilators in recent days has been better than expected, giving the city precious time to secure needed supplies for a wave of patients expected to hit local hospitals in the next few weeks.
“We’ll have to see in the days ahead if it’s something that’s sustained and something that deepens,” he said at a press conference in front of the Alfred E. Smith public elementary school in downtown Manhattan on Tuesday. “But I want to at least note a little improvement in the last few days and thank God for that.”
There are at least 72,181 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,485 deaths in New York City, the worst outbreak in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of Tuesday morning. Roughly 22% of the cases in New York City have ended up hospitalized, according to the NYC Health Department. That’s more than double the global hospitalization rate, according to the World Health Organization.
“For the first time in many days, we did not see a major increase in the number of ventilators needed in those hospitals yesterday. Very striking,” de Blasio said. “When you go back about two weeks, every day there was a substantial increase, some days more, some days less, but every day there was a substantial increase. We needed more ventilators than the day before.”
He said the improvement in the number of ventilators needed was apparent Monday, buying the city more time to get more ventilators. While the number is encouraging, he said they need to see it for several days before it’s evidence of a bigger trend.
He said about 830 people across the city were intubated yesterday, meaning they were put on a ventilator to help them breathe. That represents about 20% of the city’s available hospital beds and is about the same from Sunday to Monday. The city health department reported 266 new deaths from Sunday to Monday.
De Blasio also said people of color and people in lower-income communities, which historically have had more health problems, are getting hit disproportionately harder by the coronavirus. The city hasn’t released race data for the outbreak, but de Blasio said the city plans to do so later this week, although he warned that the data wasn’t preliminary.
“The extent of that disparity we’re still fully trying to understand. And the data we’ll give you will help us understand, but it will not be the final word, because … it is preliminary and imperfect in the middle of a crisis,” he said. “The ethnicity data in a crisis atmosphere where health care is being provided rapidly to everyone that can be reached, that’s been less of a focus.”