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White House Tells Travelers From New York to Isolate as City Cases Soar

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White House emphasizes how hard New York is being hit.
With New York emerging as the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus’s spread, White House officials on Tuesday focused on the crisis in the city and state amid their efforts to contain the virus from spreading widely elsewhere.

Speaking at a White House briefing, officials said that anyone who recently left New York should self-quarantine at home for 14 days to prevent the virus from infecting those in other regions.

“We’re starting to see new cases across Long Island that suggest people have left the city,” the White House coronavirus coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, said at the briefing.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that New Yorkers who were “understandably” trying to leave for places like Florida needed to make sure they were not “seeding” the rest of the United States.

“When they go to another place, for their own safety, they have to be careful,” Dr. Fauci said.

Vice President Mike Pence repeated the advice, calling New York City a “high-risk” area and asking New Yorkers to avoid nonessential travel.

New York’s virus case count is doubling every three days.
Coronavirus is accelerating its spread in New York, with potentially disastrous consequences, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a briefing on Tuesday in which he criticized the federal government’s response as woefully insufficient.

‘ASTRONOMICAL’ SURGE With cases in New York City doubling every three days, the governor and mayor pleaded for more federal help.
The case count is doubling every three days, and the peak of infection in New York could come as soon as two to three weeks, Mr. Cuomo said, outrunning earlier projections and threatening to put even greater strain on the health care system than officials had feared.

“We haven’t flattened the curve. And the curve is actually increasing,” Mr. Cuomo said. “The apex is higher than we thought, and the apex is sooner than we thought. That is a bad combination of facts.”

Mr. Cuomo, who last week adopted a friendlier tone toward President Trump, chastised the federal government, which has so far sent 400 ventilators to New York City.

“You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators,” Mr. Cuomo said. “What are we going to do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000 ventilators? You’re missing the magnitude of the problem, and the problem is defined by the magnitude.”

Mr. Cuomo’s briefings have become must-see television as his handling of the crisis wins him a national following.

Shortly after Mr. Cuomo’s comments, Vice President Mike Pence said on Fox News that the federal government had shipped 2,000 ventilators to New York on Tuesday and would send 2,000 more on Wednesday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said later that half those ventilators would be sent to New York City.

Mr. Cuomo, speaking at the Javits Center in Manhattan, a convention complex that the Army Corps of Engineers is turning into a 1,000-bed emergency hospital, said that the state now projects a need of up to 140,000 hospital beds to house virus patients, up from the 110,000 projected a few days ago. As of now, only 53,000 are available.

Up to 40,000 intensive-care beds could be needed.

“Those are troubling and astronomical numbers,” Mr. Cuomo said.  

Mr. Cuomo said that New York was a harbinger for the rest of the United States.

“Look at us today,” he warned. “Where we are today, you will be in four weeks or five weeks or six weeks. We are your future.”

The governor also floated the idea of gradually letting young people and those who had recovered from the coronavirus return to the work force.

But when he was asked at the briefing about conservative commentators who have suggested that some human lives could be sacrificed in the service of restarting the economy, Mr. Cuomo bristled. “We’re not going to accept a premise that human life is disposable,” he said.

Other highlights from the governor’s briefing:

As of Tuesday morning, New York State had 25,665 cases, with 210 deaths. The state now accounts for nearly 7 percent of global cases tallied by The New York Times.

The state has so far procured 7,000 of the 30,000 ventilators it needs, which are in shortage as states compete with one another to buy them.

New York has tested more than 91,000 people — by far the most of any state, Mr. Cuomo said.

New York City had 15,597 confirmed cases and 192 deaths as of Tuesday night, according to city officials.

More than 3,200 people in the state were hospitalized and 750 of those patients, or 23 percent, were in intensive care.

New York police report a drop in crime and a rise in infection among officers.
Measures adopted to stop the spread of the coronavirus in New York appear to have put a dent in crime, New York City’s police commissioner said on Tuesday.

But the commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, also expressed concern about the persistence of violent crimes like robberies and shootings. And he specifically said he was troubled by a “dramatic” decline in reports of sexual assaults and domestic violence.

“We saw an immediate drop in most categories in crime,” Commissioner Shea said at a news briefing, when asked how the new restrictions on businesses had affected public safety.

Compared with the previous week, the police recorded 443 fewer serious crimes, like assault and burglary, in the week that ended on Sunday, a 24.5 percent decline. Officers also made 1,538 fewer arrests last week compared with the week before.

Last week, detectives received just 25 new complaints that met the federal threshold for rape, compared with 51 the week before. The number of other sex crimes reported fell to 62 last week, compared with 102 on March 15.

“Maybe I’m just glass half empty here,” Commissioner Shea said, “but I can’t imagine that the crimes aren’t happening. I’m sure that there’s many crimes happening.”

Mr. de Blasio noted a surge in bias attacks aimed at the city’s Asian residents, and he urged the victims of such crimes to contact the police right away.

As crime ebbed, more Police Department employees became infected. As of Tuesday, Commissioner Shea said, 211 department members had tested positive for the virus, including 177 uniformed officers.

Two of the city’s biggest police unions say the department is failing to inform officers when someone they have worked with has tested positive.

The Police Benevolent Association, which represents rank-and-file officers, has instructed members to log sick time or time spent in quarantine related to the virus on line-of-duty injury forms, while the Sergeants Benevolent Association has assigned its delegates to monitor commands for reports of new cases and exposures.

The goal, an official said, was to avoid something similar to what occurred after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when many officers who worked to clean the wreckage at the World Trade Center site did not have records of the time they spent there.

M.T.A. cuts service as riders stay home and more workers are infected.

As the coronavirus engulfs New York, the city’s public transportation network is slashing service at least 25 percent as ridership plummets and an increasing number of sick workers hobbles the ability to run the system normally.

The decision on Tuesday to cut service on the nation’s largest transportation network came after subway ridership plunged a staggering 87 percent, or nearly 4.8 million riders, compared with the same day last year. Personnel shortages forced the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees subway, buses and two commuter rails, to temporarily eliminate service on three subway lines: the B, W and Z.

So far, 52 M.T.A. workers have tested positive for the virus, officials said.

New York City’s transportation system typically carries eight million riders each weekday.New York City News But the sudden and steep drops in ridership have severely strained the authority’s operating budget, about half of which comes from fares and tolls.

At the end of last week, compared with the same period last year’s, ridership had dropped 70 percent on buses; 94 percent on the Metro-North Railroad, which serves communities north of New York City; and 71 percent on the Long Island Rail Road, officials said.

The reduction in service allows the M.T.A. to lower operating costs and help stave off what it has called a “financial calamity.”

But health professionals have raised concerns that running fewer trains will lead to more crowding on the trains that are running, increasing the risk that passengers, many of whom are essential workers like doctors and nurses, are exposed to the virus during their commute.

De Blasio mourns the playwright Terrence McNally.
At a news briefing on Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City took a few moments to note the death of a friend, the Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally, who died on Tuesday at 81 of coronavirus complications.

“We’ve lost a great New Yorker, one of the really most renowned members of our cultural community,” Press Release Distribution News Mr. de Blasio said of Mr. McNally, who was known for dramatizing gay life for mainstream audiences. The mayor said that Mr. McNally “epitomizes so much about the city.”

Mr. de Blasio said he knew Mr. McNally well because one of his college roommates, Tom Kirdahy, was the playwright’s husband.

The remembrance of Mr. McNally came as Mr. de Blasio echoed Mr. Cuomo’s call for the federal government to provide more equipment, including ventilators, to the virus-ravaged state and city.

With the governor concerned about the number of New Yorkers gathering at city parks and playgrounds, Mr. de Blasio said officials would give residents until Saturday night to show they could practice social distancing appropriately.

If the city is not satisfied, he is prepared to shut down parks and playgrounds “for the foreseeable future,” Mr. de Blasio said on Tuesday, though he noted that, broadly speaking, city residents were adhering to restrictions on crowd sizes.

To reduce gatherings, the mayor said, the city was considering closing “up to two” streets in each borough to vehicles as a way to provide more public space and reduce crowding.

The mayor also said that alternate-side parking rules would be suspended for another week, through Tuesday, March 31.

The city is also moving to immediately release about 300 inmates from  the Rikers Island jail complex who have been convicted of misdemeanors and some nonviolent crimes, Mr. de Blasio said. All of them have less than one year left on their sentences, he said.

The de Blasio administration is also working with state officials and the city’s district attorneys on the potential release of about 100 people who are awaiting trial in city jails, and around 700 people who are in jail on parole violations, the mayor said.

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