New York significantly expanded testing this week which contributed to the surge. It has long been suspected that the number of infected was greater than the statistics reflected as tests were being reserved for those showing significant symptoms or for medical personnel and first responders who come in contact with those potentially infected.
By Saturday morning, it is expected that New York State (with 8,403 current confirmed cases) will surpass the entire country of South Korea (8,652 current confirmed cases) which was an early hotspot in the pandemic.
South Korea and the United States both reported their first confirmed cases of the virus on January 20th, but the number of new cases in South Korea has been declining.
The key has been testing.
Through March 12th, the United States had performed just over 11,000 tests total since the outbreak began. South Korea has consistently been performing 12,000 test per day.
At Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, doctors warned they have only a few remaining ventilators for patients who need them to breathe.
At Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn, the staff warned they were running so low on critical supplies that they are slathering their masks with hand sanitizer between shifts trying to make the once-disposable masks last a week or more.
State officials have warned the state may need to double its available hospital beds (from 50,000 to 100,000) and could require as many as 25,000 ventilators (7,000 are currently available) if the outbreak peaks in late May as expected.
Looking at the global cases so far, approximately 20 percent of coronavirus patients will require hospitalization. One quarter of those will require a mechanical ventilator machine to help them breathe. That tracks with the New York State cases to date which have required more than 1,200 hospitalizations.
The New York public hospital system has received more than 100 additional ventilators from its supplier and is expecting hundreds more to be delivered in the coming weeks. Mayor Bill de Blasio made it clear the additional resources could not come soon enough.
“I don’t mean to be too dramatic here, it’s just a fact. It is a fact that a lot of people are going to die who don’t need to die if this doesn’t happen quickly.”
Demetre Daskalakis, deputy commissioner of New York City’s Department of Health, estimated that hundreds of thousands (potentially, millions) of city residents might ultimately be infected although the vast majority will have mild symptoms, or no noticeable symptoms at all.
That would be welcome news to a city healthcare system already struggling with just the first wave of cases.