NEW YORK: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that the COVID-19 death rate in the epicentre of America's deadly coronavirus pandemic was "effectively flat" for the past two days as he extended a shutdown in the state until April 29.
Addressing his daily coronavirus briefing on Monday, Cuomo said the number of COVID-19 cases continue to increase in the state and overall New York has over 130,000 people tested COVID-19 positive, 16,000 people hospitalized, 13,000 people been discharged.
The death toll reported on Monday was 599.
The death toll in New York now stands at 4758, up from 159 "but which is effectively flat for two days.
"He said while the death toll is not good news, the possible flattening of the curve is better than the increases that we have seen."
Cuomo pointed out that the total number of hospitalizations in New York State, ICU admissions and daily intubations are down.
"Those are all good signs and again would suggest a possible flattening of the curve.
"Longtime Cuomo aide Jim Malatras said based on the earliest projections, it was estimated that the pandemic peak in the state would come at the end of April and would require around 110,000 beds just for COVID19 patients.
"Now that we have a pretty robust data set that go by for the last several weeks. Based on what numbers come in, could suggest that we are indeed potentially at the apex or beginning to be at the apex at this moment."
Cuomo warned that the numbers "still could go any way and we could still see an increase. So it is hopeful but it's also inconclusive and it still depends on what we do."
He asserted that a drop in numbers or arriving at the apex does not mean the state becomes complacent with the strict measures put in place like social distancing.
"These models all have a co-efficient of what we do and how successful we are social distancing etc," he said, adding that from a decision-making point of view it will not matter if New York hits the plateau or not "because you have to do the same thing."
"If we are plateau, we are plateauing at a very high level and there's tremendous stress on the healthcare system.
"And if we are plateauing, it's because social distancing is working," Cuomo said, adding that it must be ensured that the social distancing actually continues.
Cuomo said that schools and non-essential businesses will continue to remain closed till April 29, irrespective of whether the COVID-19 curve plateaus or not.
"If that curve is turning, it's turning because the rate of infection is going down. One of the reasons the rate of infection is going down is because social distancing is working. We have to continue the social distancing."
Cuomo noted that he knows what prolonged closure of schools and essential businesses does to the economy.
He warned that there a "real danger" in getting "overconfident too quickly."
"This is an enemy that we have underestimated from day one and we have paid the price dearly."
He cited the examples of "mistakes" made by Hong Kong and South Korea in easing restrictions too soon.
"We're not going to make that mistake, the weather is turning. People have been locked up. We've been talking about cabin fever. Now it's a nice day I'm going to get out. I'm going to go take a walk. Now is not the time to do that.
"And frankly, there has been a laxness on social distancing, that is just wholly unacceptable."