Apr 8, 2020 - Health

New York's coronavirus curve may be close to flattening

Medics in blue gowns load a coronavirus patient onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.
A coronavirus patient in Queens. Photo: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

There's some hope the wave of coronavirus cases in New York City, the hardest-hit area of the country, is starting to plateau.

The big picture: Deaths keep rising, but hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions and intubations have mostly been stagnant or declining in recent days.

What they're saying: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that social distancing measures appear to be helping drive down the number of coronavirus patients who need serious hospital care, but that trend "still depends on what we do, and what we do will affect those numbers."

  • However, new data released Tuesday night by city officials throws a wrench in some of the optimism. Hospitalizations appear to have risen, although it's unclear whether that includes delayed reporting.

Many New York City hospitals are still struggling to care for the influx of patients, but hope this week will be the turning point.

  • "It looks like it's flattening," Steven Corwin, CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian, told Axios. His hospital system was treating 2,300 COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday, 630 of whom were on a ventilator in an ICU. "We'll really know in another three or four days whether that trend continues."

Yes, but: Health care workers are continuing to work with limited protective gear, and the extraordinary caseload has stretched doctors, critical care nurses, respiratory therapists and other essential hospital staff.

  • Corwin said he is less concerned now about the supply of N95 masks and surgical masks and more concerned about protective gowns, which are in short supply due to a gown recall from Cardinal Health earlier this year and slow production from China.

The bottom line: Even if coronavirus cases are close to peaking in New York, this is far from over. A lot of hardship and death is still to come, both in New York and in other places that have not practiced aggressive social distancing.

Go deeper