NEW YORK - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended stay-at-home restrictions through the end of the month and increased fines on violators to up to $1,000, citing fresh evidence Monday that the outbreak-fighting rules could be helping the state avoid a worst-case catastrophe.
New York state has tallied 4,758 deaths from COVID-19, with 599 reported in the last 24 hours. It remains the most impacted state with more than 130,000 laboratory-confirmed cases and close to 17,000 people hospitalized. The confirmed cases do not count infected people who have not been tested.
But there are signs the surge might finally be slowing. While the death toll grows, the daily increases are leveling off. The daily number of new hospitalizations has dropped, as have the number of new patients being prepared for ventilators. Recent data suggests the state could be at or near the peak, meaning fewer hospital beds would be needed in the coming weeks than the most dire projections had indicated, according to state officials.
Cuomo called the data hopeful but inconclusive, and warned it was no time to relax rules designed to cut down on transmission. He announced schools and nonessential businesses will remain closed until April 29 and that the maximum fine for violations of state social distancing protocol will soon be $1,000, up from $500.
"This virus has kicked our rear end. And we underestimate this virus at our own peril. We've learned that lesson," Cuomo told a news briefing at the state Capitol. "Now is not the time to slack off on what we're doing."
A Siena College poll released Monday found that most New York state residents say they are either quarantining themselves or social-distancing. But Cuomo complained about a "laxness" in social distancing as the weeks of isolation wear on and the weather gets warmer.
Cuomo stressed that even if New York has reached the peak, numbers could persist at these levels, which would continue to stress struggling hospitals.
"This is a hospital system where we have the foot to the floor and the engine is at red line and you can't go any faster and, by the way, you can't stay at red line for any period of time or the system will blow," Cuomo said.
FROM THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE
- State's nonessential workforce must continue to work from home through at least April 29.
- Schools will stay closed through at least April 29.
- Maximum fine for violations of the social distancing protocol increasing from $500 to $1,000.
- Mental health counseling is available via the COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 844-863-9314.
- Free Headspace.com meditation and mindfulness content is available at www.headspace.com/ny.
- First Responders Fund helps COVID-19 health care workers and first responders with expenses and costs, including child care; donations at www.healthresearch.org/donation-form/.
- If you don't have health insurance, you can apply through NY State of Health through May 15, 2020; you must apply within 60 days of losing coverage.
Here are other coronavirus developments in New York:
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio implored the city's Hasidic Jewish community to comply with social distancing rules after large crowds gathered for a funeral in Brooklyn over the weekend.
Video posted on social media shows officers blaring sirens as they drove up to dozens of mourners Sunday for a 78-year-old rabbi who reportedly died of COVID-19, according to the New York Post.
"It's just too dangerous," the mayor said Monday at a press briefing. "We cannot tolerate at this moment in history any gatherings. We have no choice and the NYPD has no choice but to immediately break them up."
The crowds eventually tapered off. There were no arrests or citations issued in either case.
BRONX FIELD HOSPITAL
An emergency field hospital is under construction at a park in the Bronx as New York City races to add hospital beds.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency confirmed Monday that a 200-bed facility to treat COVID-19-positive patients will be set up in Van Cortlandt Park.
The 12-acre site will be up and running in about three weeks, City Councilman Andrew Cohen told the Daily News.
A Long Island hospital is mourning the loss of one of its nurses from the coronavirus.
Officials at Huntington Hospital said Monday they were "devastated" by the death of John Abruzzo, who had been among the medical staff providing care to patients with COVID-19 before his own illness. Abruzzo's wife told Newsday the 63-year-old died on Thursday. He had been a nurse at the hospital in Huntington, New York, since 2007.
Lawyers for the first Rikers Island inmate to die from COVID-19 say he was being held at the notorious New York City jail on a technical parole violation.
Michael Tyson, 53, died Sunday at Bellevue Hospital, 10 days after being transferred there from Rikers Island with symptoms of the disease.
Tyson was released from state prison last year after serving time for sale of a controlled substance. He was sent to Rikers on a parole violation on Feb. 28, according to jail records.
City jails have released about 1,000 inmates because of the pandemic. Many have a high risk of serious complications if they contract the disease and are a low risk to reoffend, officials said.
New York has a hotline for residents to complain about violations to COVID-19 density restrictions.
New Yorkers can dial 833-789-0470 or fill out an online form to give the state a heads-up when businesses or individuals are violating the state's restrictions shuttering non-essential businesses and banning gatherings.
A team of investigators from several state agencies reviews the complaints for accuracy and then refers them to local authorities.
De Blasio visited the Brooklyn Navy Yard to promote companies teaming up to make surgical gowns for supply-strapped medical workers.
De Blasio says the city's public hospital system has enough surgical gowns for this week, but some private hospitals and other facilities like nursing homes are running low.
Crye Precision, a design and manufacturing company, is making gowns with the help of women's wear brand Lafayette 148 and other sewing shops at the Navy Yard, the mayor said.