NEW YORK (AP) - The official death toll from the coronavirus soared in New York City on Tuesday after health authorities began including people who probably had COVID-19, but died without ever being tested.
Officials reported 3,778 "probable" deaths, where doctors were certain enough of the cause of death to list it on the death certificate, and 6,589 confirmed by a lab test. Combined, that would put the total fatalities in the city over 10,000.
The change in the city's accounting of deaths came after officials acknowledged that statistics based only on laboratory-confirmed tests were failing to account for many people dying at home before they reached a hospital or even sought treatment.
"Behind every death is a friend, a family member, a loved one. We are focused on ensuring that every New Yorker who died because of COVID-19 gets counted," said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. "While these data reflect the tragic impact that the virus has had on our city, they will also help us to determine the scale and scope of the epidemic and guide us in our decisions."
New Yorkers continue to die at an unnerving pace even as the number of patients in hospitals has leveled off.
Earlier Tuesday, officials said 778 deaths were recorded statewide Monday, bringing New York's total to more than 10,800. That figure, though, did not factor in the probable deaths now being counted in New York City.
New York City will move toward coronavirus self-sufficiency by boosting local production of virus test kits, face shields and surgical gowns, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
"Starting in a few weeks we will be producing here in New York City 50,000 test kits per week with components put together right here, with companies, universities, New York City workers right here building a brand new supply chain to feed this industry that will now develop in New York City," de Blasio said.
State and city officials have stressed the need to greatly expand coronavirus testing before any relaxation of social distancing guidelines can be contemplated. Health care workers have complained throughout the virus pandemic of shortages of personal protective equipment like gowns and face shields.
De Blasio said eight city companies are now making 240,000 face shields a week and will ramp up to 465,000 by April 24 and to 620,000 soon after.
He said five companies are making 30,000 surgical gowns a week and the goal is more than 250,000 weekly.
De Blasio said the city will purchase 50,000 test kits a week from Indiana-based Aria-Diagnostics.