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New York, April 19, 2020
New York reported 540 more coronavirus deaths overnight, a reduction of 25 per cent from the previous day, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday, but the state still remained the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, which currently accounts for the highest number of cases and fatalities in the world.
"If you look at the past three days, you could argue we are past the plateau and starting to descend," the Governor said at his daily COVID-19 briefing.
"So, we're not at the plateau anymore, but we're still not in a good position."
The state accounts for more than a third of the 38,910 US deaths from coronavirus, while the disease has claimed more than 8,400 lives just in New York City.
And while Friday saw the smallest number of new fatalities in two weeks, some 2,000 people with coronavirus symptoms were admitted to hospitals in the city, a figure comparable to the situation late last month, when the pandemic was growing at an alarming rate.
Cuomo said that authorities are particularly concerned about the threat posed by the COVID-19 to residents of nursing homes.
"Nursing homes are the single biggest fear in all of this. Vulnerable people in one place - it is the feeding frenzy for this virus, despite everything we can do and the best efforts of people working in those nursing homes," he said.
The virus is very dangerous to the elderly and 2,500 of the mortal victims in New York state have been people over 65.
In planning for the rollback of restrictions on people's movements and activity, the governor emphasized that a complete re-opening of the economy will only be possible with vastly expanded testing accompanied by tracing, which is very labour-intensive.
"The trick with testing is not that we don't know how to do it," Cuomo said. "It's bringing this up to scale."
Following Friday's acrimonious exchange with President Donald Trump about the level of federal assistance to states dealing with the pandemic, the Governor limited himself to noting that certain aspects of the problem can only be addressed by Washington.
"I'm not asking the federal government to do more than they need to. But we do need their coordination. We need their partnership," Cuomo said, citing the example of difficulties in obtaining the chemical re-agents needed for testing.
"No one has the chemicals because everybody has been overrun with demand. And the chemicals come out of where? China," he said.
The governor said that his complaints about Trump's handling of the crisis were not politically motivated and repeated his denial of harbouring presidential ambitions.
"I'm not running for anything, I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to be governor of New York state until the people kick me out," Cuomo told reporters.