New York Coronavirus Hospitalizations Lowest Since March After 19 Straight Days of Decline

New York reported 19 straight days of declining numbers in COVID-19 hospitalizations, bringing the total number to their lowest levels since late March.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that there are now 10,350 people infected with the novel coronavirus in New York hospitals across the state–the lowest number of hospitalizations since 9,517 people were hospitalized on March 29.

New York saw a peak in hospitalizations on April 12 with 18,825, a number that has been declining ever since. Hospital bed capacity in the state is over 90,000, after Cuomo instructed hospitals to increase the previous 53,000-bed capacity.

Cuomo had stated at the beginning of the pandemic that New York would need 140,000 hospital beds and 30,000 ventilators, per scientific projections that were off target by a wide margin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a 2,000-bed facility in the Javits Center and President Donald Trump sent New York the U.S. Naval Ship Comfort capable of treating 500 coronavirus patients. The ship has since been sent away by Cuomo, and the Javits Center will be closing soon after only treating about 1,100 patients.

The state also saw the three-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus hospitalizations drop to 831 Friday–the lowest it's been since it hit 694 on March 23–but still too high a number, according to the governor.

"We are still getting about 900 new infections every day walking into the hospitals. That is still an unacceptably high rate. We're trying to understand exactly why that is, who are those 900, where is it coming from, [and] what can we do to now refine our strategies to find out where those new cases are being generated and then get to those areas...to try to target our attack," Cuomo said.

The governor said that he began asking hospitals Friday to collect information on new cases such as patients' place of residence, their occupation and their method of travel to try and figure out where state resources should be directed.

New York has conducted the largest antibodies study in the nation by testing 15,103 people to see whether they have been infected by the coronavirus. States are using these antibodies tests to get a sense about just how prevalent the infections are, as many people who contract the virus are asymptomatic.

About 12.3 percent of the over 15,000 New Yorkers tested had the coronavirus antibodies in their blood. Of the residents tested who live in New York City, 19.9 percent were found to have antibodies. The Bronx had the highest percentage of people with antibodies at 27.6 percent, followed by Brooklyn and Staten Island with 19.2 percent each. About 18.4 percent of Queens residents tested positive for the coronavirus antibodies, and Manhattan had the least amount of positive tests with 17.3 percent.

"We have so much at stake, so many decisions we have to make, that we want to get those data points as quickly as we can," Cuomo said.

In order to protect the most vulnerable populations from getting infected, including seniors and those in poorer communities, New York State will be distributing seven million masks to nursing home and those living in public housing developments. New York will also be giving $25 million to food banks across the state.

"The more this has gone on, the longer people are without a job...basics like paying rent and buying food become very important," Cuomo said, adding that "nobody can be evicted for nonpayment of rent and that's true through June."

In order to keep front-line workers safe as they travel to their jobs, the governor said that the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) would be "disinfecting every [subway] train" every 24 hours.

"This is such a monumental undertaking I can't even begin to describe it to you. The New York City subway system has never been closed. It operates 24 hours a day because we have a 24-hour city. We're taking the unprecedented step during this pandemic of closing the system for four hours at night – from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. – when the ridership is lowest," Cuomo said.

The MTA will use that time to walk through every train "with a misting device" and "spray disinfectant literally on every surface."

"To make sure the riding public is safe, the best thing you can do is disinfect the whole inside of the car," Cuomo said.

The governor had said Friday that the state would be closing all schools and universities through the end of the academic year. Plans for summer school will be announced at the end of May.

"We have to protect our students, we have to protect our educators. Given the circumstances that we're in and the precautions that would have to be put in place...we don't think it is possible to do that in a way that would keep our children and educators safe," Cuomo said. New York will continue to conduct its distance learning programs.

New York has 312,977 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 18,909 deaths, according to the state's coronavirus tracker.

Meanwhile, New Jersey announced Saturday 205 new deaths, bringing the state's total deaths attributed to COVID-19 to 7,742. There are 123,717 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, according to their coronavirus tracker.

Governor Phil Murphy said that the number of cases are rising again in the states, as the state parks are now open again to the public.

"We are smart, we have all followed best practices, and together we are flattening the curves, and we are making progress, but if we hear reports of people not taking either their health or the health...of other park goers more seriously, we will not hesitate...to close them again," Murphy said at his daily coronavirus briefing Saturday.

"I want everyone to enjoy this extraordinary weekend, but enjoy it responsibly, and if we do this...we'll be able to move forward," the governor said.

Updated 4:42 PM ET, to include New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's remarks.

Gov. Cuomo Holds Daily Briefing On Coronavirus Pandemic In New York
ALBANY, NY - MAY 01: New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during his daily press briefing on May 1, 2020 in Albany, New York. Cuomo stated that New York will eliminate deductibles for mental health services for frontline workers. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images) Stefani Reynolds/Getty