First Coronavirus-Related Death Reported in New York: 'Virus Has Spread Much More Than We Know,' Governor Says

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On Saturday morning, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state’s first death related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

An 82-year-old New York City woman, who had an underlying respiratory illness, died on Friday, Cuomo said during a teleconference on Saturday, according to several reports.

The unidentified woman had emphysema and had been hospitalized on March 3 as one of the state’s first cases of coronavirus. She died Friday night at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn.

“This virus has spread much more than we know,” Cuomo said in a CNN interview on Saturday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also released a statement on Twitter confirming the death, urging New Yorkers to take care and “do their part” in helping to contain the virus.

“We’ve known from the outset that these people are the most at risk in this pandemic, and today’s news is a sad confirmation of that reality,” de Blasio said. “I want to thank the staff of Wyckoff Medical Center for their efforts to save this woman’s life, and all the medical professionals on the front lines protecting our most vulnerable.”

“We all have a part to play here,” he added. “I ask every New Yorker to do their part and take the necessary precautionary measures to protect the people most at risk.”

Cuomo also announced that the number of positive coronavirus cases went up across the state by about 100 overnight. There are now 524 positive cases of coronavirus in the state, with 117 hospitalized.

New York now has more cases than any other state in the United States, which Cuomo credited to additional testing.

“No one believes there are only 500 cases of coronavirus in New York State,” he said during the press conference on Saturday.

“The more tests we take, the more that number will go up,” Cuomo said, according to NBC. “We believe there are thousands of people who have coronavirus [in the state]. Maybe tens of thousands.”

Cuomo revealed the state received federal approval to allow 28 labs across the state to begin running coronavirus tests, which will allow the state to process 6,000 tests a day starting next week.

Up until now, the state has only been able to run a total of 3,000 tests so far, he said.

This news comes after Cuomo announced a push for more testing sites on Friday, including a partnership with Northwell and BioReference Laboratories to set up a mobile testing center to examine 200 to 500 people per day in Westchester County, home to the city New Rochelle, which has been the state’s epicenter.

As the tests begin to roll out and more people are confirmed with the virus, New York hospitals are worried about their ability to handle the influx of patients they expect to see.

“We are not prepared to deal with a rapid and severe surge of patients — we’re just not,” Dr. Christopher M. Tedeschi, a longtime emergency physician and assistant professor at the Columbia University Medical Center told The New York Times. “We’re sort of planning for what’s going on right now, and we’re trying to make up for lost time, but I’m not sure we’re planning for a month from now, or even two weeks from now.”

However, health officials emphasize that most coronavirus cases do not require hospitalization.

As of March 14, there have been at least 2,195 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States and 49 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

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