Coronavirus cases soar in US with New York worst hit

Governor Andrew Cuomo criticises ‘arrogant’ citizens ignoring social distancing guidelines

New York governor Andrew Cuomo, delivers his daily briefing on coronavirus, in Albany. ‘It has to stop and it has to stop now ... You would not know that anything was going on. This is not a joke.’ Photograph: Cindy Schultz/The New York Times

New York governor Andrew Cuomo, delivers his daily briefing on coronavirus, in Albany. ‘It has to stop and it has to stop now ... You would not know that anything was going on. This is not a joke.’ Photograph: Cindy Schultz/The New York Times

 

The scale of the coronavirus crisis facing the US was laid bare on Sunday when confirmed cases across the country surged to almost 30,000 and New York emerged as an international hotspot.

Figures presented by New York state governor Andrew Cuomo showed that the number of confirmed US cases had increased by about 8,000 from Saturday, to more than 29,000.

New York has the biggest number of cases in the US. Data showed one in 20 people in the world who have the virus live in the state, with the number of cases surging from 10,000 to 15,000 as of Sunday. Those in New York City itself rose from about 6,000 to 9,000.

New York has enacted sweeping restrictions to contain the outbreak, ordering all workers in non-essential business and services to remain at home. But Mr Cuomo said he was increasingly concerned that citizens were still failing to take the virus seriously enough. He accused those who are continuing to socialise in the city of being “arrogant” and “insensitive”.

“I don’t know what they’re not understanding,” he said, noting that parks were packed over the weekend. “It has to stop and it has to stop now . . . You would not know that anything was going on. This is not a joke.”

Separate data from Johns Hopkins University show that the US has the third-largest number of confirmed cases globally, behind only China and Italy. The country has more cases than Spain, Iran, France and South Korea. More than 320,000 cases have been confirmed globally and more than 14,000 deaths.

Mr Cuomo said he expected between 40 and 80 per cent of the state’s population to ultimately contract the virus.

The death toll across the US now stands at about 375. New York state has recorded the most, with almost 115, followed by Washington with 95 and California with almost 30.

New York has about 15 times more confirmed cases than any other state – although this was in part, Mr Cuomo said, because it was conducting more tests than elsewhere.

Mr Cuomo called on the federal government to nationalise medical supplies, warning that the private sector was engaging in “price gouging”. Masks to protect wearers from the virus normally cost 85 cents but were now selling for $7 (€6.50), he said, as states were forced to compete with each other.

New York has drawn up emergency plans to house field hospitals in college campuses and conference centres, including Javits Center in Manhattan, as it tries to increase state bed capacity by half, to at least 75,000.

Quarantine

Meanwhile, Rand Paul became the first US senator to test positive for the virus, also known as Covid-19. “He is feeling fine and is in quarantine,” read a tweet on the senator’s official account.

“He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person.”

The Canadian death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped almost 50 per cent to 19 in less than a day on Sunday, and officials threatened to punish people refusing to take precautions to fight the spread of the disease.

The government said late on Saturday that 13 people had died from the respiratory illness caused by the virus, but by 9am eastern time (1pm Irish time) on Sunday that had grown to 19. The number of confirmed cases rose to 1,388 from 1,099.

Canada has already closed its borders to all but essential travel and announced a C$27 billion (€17.5 billion) aid package for people and businesses most affected by the crisis. Prime minister Justin Trudeau said more measures would be needed. “We’re looking now at what those next steps are to ensure that our economy is able to pick up again once we’re through this. It is likely to take months,” he told reporters. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020