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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

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.