What you should know

More than 31,800 people in the tri-state area have died from COVID-19, although authorities acknowledge that the actual number is likely higher; other indicators such as infection rate and daily hospitalizations continue to decline slowly Some parts of the country have been aggressive in their efforts to reopen; Experts say infection rates are increasing outside the New York area. To date, the United States has reported nearly 75,000 virus deaths and more than 1.2 million infections.

NEW YORK – New York reported an unexpected increase of nearly 1,000 deaths as a result of COVID-19 on Wednesday night, a jarring and unexplained peak that may reflect a change in the way the state counts deaths rather than an increase. sudden.

The state normally updates its COVID-19 tracker in the early afternoon every day. Wednesday’s update didn’t come until after 8 p.m., when it listed the virus death toll as 20,597, a jump of 952 from its previous daily update. The 952 “new” deaths were more than four times the 232 daily deaths that Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in his coronavirus briefing earlier in the day.

It was not immediately clear why the numbers increased dramatically over the course of the day, but it may be that the state modified its reporting policy to include some people who likely died of the virus but never had a laboratory test to confirm they were positive. The state tracker reports deaths in nursing homes and adult care separately; Nursing home data released Wednesday was a new table that included suspected nursing home deaths through May 5.

The state’s overall mortality data does not include a separate count of suspected deaths, making it unclear which data sets are counted in the latest issue of 20,597. Cuomo is likely to be questioned about the data at his daily briefing on Thursday.

New York City has been counting probable virus deaths, cases in which death certificates include COVID-19 or an equivalent as the cause, for weeks, according to CDC guidelines. As of Wednesday, it had reported 5,359 of them in addition to nearly 14,000 “confirmed” virus deaths.

Ultimately, it is a difficult metric to plot with a true sense of certainty. Overall, experts agree that the number of reported deaths is likely much lower than the actual number. They also agree that the number of actual infections is staggeringly higher than the amount reported by the states.

In New York, Cuomo focuses on available data and analyzes trends. The infection rate has been more critical to your purposes than the reported number of cases. And that, according to the data, has slowed down, from a point where each infected New Yorker sickened at least one other New Yorker, who the governor says defines an “outbreak,” at a rate of 0.7 in the past week.

As the state’s infection rate declines, the governor is shifting his attention to new cases entering hospitals in an effort to refine the containment strategy. Initial findings suggest that most of the new cases are older people of color who have been out of New York City homes and are still getting sick.

The governor said that an overwhelming majority of new hospital admissions are people admitted from home who have not been traveling, and it is an obvious reminder of how crucial it is to take personal safety precautions.

“It reinforces what we have been saying, and much of this comes down to what you do to protect yourself,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “Everything is closed, the government has done everything possible … now it is up to you.”

In New York City, the three metrics that Mayor Bill de Blasio publicly emphasizes every day have shown steady progress. But while overall progress has been consistent across those markers (number of new hospitalizations, current intensive care admissions, and percentage of people testing positive), it rarely stays on all three for consecutive days. That is what it will take to start moving to the next phase of the crisis, authorities say.

“Both the city and the state are on the other side of the curve, we have been for a while,” Cuomo told MSNBC Wednesday night. “We want to see how far it goes down. The death toll is still terribly high … but all the arrows point in the right direction.”

New Jersey has lagged a bit compared to New York on the downward slope. Gov. Phil Murphy added more than 300 deaths Wednesday in his state, which is 8,549. Still, he also says his state’s infection rate is declining, along with daily hospitalizations.

Connecticut, which has been the least affected of the three states, has lost 2,718. Of the three local governors, Ned Lamont has outlined the most aggressive reopening plan, with a number of industries, including personal care services, which will resume with restrictions in the next two weeks.

Health experts fear setbacks as desperate states push to reopen

With about half of the US easing its closings to restart its economies, cell phone data shows that people are becoming restless and increasingly leave their homes, public health authorities are concerned. Outside the tri-state area, infection rates are already increasing.

“It is clear to me that we are at a critical moment in this fight. We risk complacency and accept the preventable deaths of 2,000 Americans every day,” epidemiologist Caitlin Rivers, a professor at Johns Hopkins, told a subcommittee of the House of Representatives in Washington.

Having “gone through hell” and returned for the past 60 days, Cuomo is convinced that New York will not rush to its reopening. In New Jersey, Murphy is on the same page. Yes, trend lines are clearly going down, governors say. That shouldn’t mislead anyone into thinking that the numbers themselves (daily deaths, the number of new hospitalizations) are still not too high.

“How many people are we willing to lose to rush the economy open? 100,000? 200,000? What is the number of lives? No one wants to talk about it that way,” Cuomo asked rhetorically. “In New York, my point is that any human life is priceless and I’m not going to put a price on it. And I don’t think we have to sacrifice human life to reopen it. Just do it smart and do it based on data.”

Infections have been confirmed in nearly 490,000 people locally, 323,978 in New York, 131,890 in New Jersey and 30,995 in Connecticut, although the actual number of patients could be up to 10 times higher. Nationwide, more than 1.2 million people have been diagnosed. Almost 75,000 have died.

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 3.6 million people and killed more than a quarter of a million, according to the Johns Hopkins University count, which experts say underestimates the dimensions of the pandemic due to tests. limited, differences in the death count and concealment by some governments. .