May 6, 2020

Virus Survey Finds Most Patients Retired or Unemployed: Live Updates

Who’s getting sick now? Older people and those without jobs.

New York State has been shut down for six weeks. Social distancing has become the norm. Face masks are everywhere.

And yet more than 20,000 people a week in the state are still testing positive for the coronavirus. In the past week, more than 5,000 virus patients entered hospitals. Who are they?

Officials have surveyed hospitals to find out, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that he was surprised by the results he was reporting on Wednesday.

More than four in five patients were retired or unemployed. Only 17 percent were working.

“We were thinking that maybe we were going to find a higher percentage of essential employees who were getting sick because they were going to work, that these may be nurses, doctors, transit workers,” Mr. Cuomo said. “That’s not the case.”

Virus patients entering hospitals were primarily older: Nearly three in five were over 60, and around one in five entered the hospital from a nursing home or an assisted living facility, the survey found.

Other results of the three-day survey, which included 113 New York hospitals that had admitted a total of nearly 1,300 patients:

“That says they’re not working, they’re not traveling, they’re predominantly downstate, predominantly minority, predominantly older,” Mr. Cuomo said.

Mr. Cuomo reported on Wednesday that the virus had killed another 232 New Yorkers, the third straight day that the one-day death toll had hovered around 230.

The governor also announced that Eric Schmidt, a former chief executive of Google, would lead a commission to reimagine how New York delivers public services once the virus has been brought under control.

Murphy extends restrictions as N.J. adds 308 virus deaths.

Gov. Philip D. Murphy said on Wednesday that he was extending New Jersey’s public health emergency order for 30 days.

“We’re seeing good signs without question,” Mr. Murphy said at his daily briefing. “But we cannot lull ourselves into thinking that all is well.”

The governor said that the virus had killed another 308 people in New Jersey, bringing to 8,549 the number of virus-related deaths in the state.

State health officials have said that the number of deaths reported on any given day may include some that are weeks old and have only recently been linked to the virus.

There were 1,513 new virus cases reported in the state, bringing the total to 131,890. The number of new cases has risen slightly in recent days, although it is still well below its one-day peak of 4,391 in mid-April.

But the number of new cases in nursing and other long-term homes in New Jersey keeps rising steadily. More than 23,340 people have been infected in nursing homes in the state, and 4,261 have dead, almost exactly half of the total number of deaths.

New Jersey’s attorney general opened an investigation last month into how nursing homes have responded to the pandemic.

The shutdown of New York City’s subway early Wednesday was the first in what will be a daily event: For the foreseeable future, as long as the pandemic is a threat, the system will stop running from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. every night to give cleaners time to thoroughly disinfect trains, stations and equipment.

Groups of cleaners will board trains and homeless people who have been taking shelter on cars will be moved off and, the authorities say, persuaded to enter shelters and get checked for virus symptoms.

At the Stillwell Avenue station in Coney Island, Brooklyn, over a dozen police officers waited after midnight for trains to arrive. As one pulled in at 12:43 a.m., an announcement echoed to the 14 riders on board: “Last stop on arriving train. No passengers, please.”

Stephen Bell, 33, was one of several homeless riders approached by outreach officers and social workers. Mr. Bell said he had lost his job as an environmental researcher a week ago and soon afterward his home in Queens.

He agreed to be directed to a shelter.

“They were really polite about it,” he said. “It’s crazy, though.”

Mr. Bell said he had tested positive for Covid-19 three weeks ago.

Not all riders were as sanguine about the shutdown. Just before 1 a.m., one rider waiting for a train that she worried would not come shouted questions at transit workers and police officers about how to get home to her 1-year-old son.

“We’re stranded. We got nowhere to go,” said the rider, Janera Roper, who works as a security guard at a Verizon store in Coney Island and lives in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. “How am I going to go home? I got to go home to my child.”

At his Wednesday briefing, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that 139 of 252 homeless people that were approached by city workers as the shutdown commenced agreed to accept support.

“The initial snapshot is a powerful and positive one,” the mayor said.

The challenge is this: how to gather, and draw attention, while keeping a safe distance from one another and onlookers?

New York City police officers have broken up some protests, including one on Sunday in Manhattan, saying the demonstrators had violated social-distancing rules laid out in executive orders from the mayor and the governor.

Some civil rights lawyers said those rules were being used as an excuse to curtail free speech.

Credit…Jackie Rudin

Similar issues have been raised over other recent protests in the United States, many of them involving demonstrators who refused to wear masks or to maintain social distancing.

New York’s police commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, defended his officers’ actions, saying they had been enforcing executive orders meant to “keep people alive.”

“While we greatly, greatly respect the right of people to protest, there should not be protests taking place in the middle of a pandemic by gathering outside and putting people at risk,” Commissioner Shea said on Monday.

Having worked for nearly 30 years at City Fresh Market in Bushwick, Brooklyn, perched on her stool at cash register No. 4, Cecilia Nibbs knew customers by the things they bought, keeping a mental list of their spending habits, much like taking stock of the store’s inventory.

In March, customers started disappearing. They had died, other residents told her. The news got grimmer: They had fallen victim to a new and incurable disease.

“People came to tell me: ‘Oh Ceci, remember that guy? He died,’” Ms. Nibbs said. “‘Oh Ceci, remember that one? He died.’”

Their deaths were ominous early signs of the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.

Suddenly, going to work felt like walking into a war zone where the enemy was invisible and could be carried by any person whose groceries she packed and into whose hands she placed change.

What used to be a mundane job became fraught with anxiety, nearly overnight.

“When you’re working in the store, you interact with a lot of people. You don’t know which one is the sick one,” Ms. Nibbs, 58, said. “You don’t know which one is the good one.’’

“I tell you, it’s scary,” she added.

Supermarkets do not usually stand out as providers of essential services like hospitals, police precinct houses or fire stations do. But they have emerged as vital to the city, keeping New Yorkers fed and communities together. At the same time, they are places of danger for workers because of the waves of customers shuffling in and out.

At City Fresh — like at most grocery stores — workers’ rituals have changed in ways they never could have imagined.

There are the usual tasks — turning on cash registers, stocking the cereal aisle, setting up the cold cuts at the deli counter. But now they protect themselves behind plastic shields and cloth masks, slipping on gloves and carrying disinfectant wherever they go.

Hospitals in region get $8 billion in federal virus “hot spot” money.

Hospitals in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that have been identified as hot spots in the fight against the coronavirus are getting nearly $8 billion from the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

The money, part of a $12 billion “provider relief fund,” is going to hospitals around the country that had admitted at least 100 virus patients as of April 10. The 90 hospitals in New York that qualify are splitting $5.7 billion. New Jersey hospitals are getting $1.8 billion and Connecticut hospitals $330 million.

The money includes over $800 million to reimburse hospitals in the region for care they provided to low-income and uninsured patients. It is intended to provide “funding to purchase equipment, hire additional staff, and procure other needed resources to care for patients during the Covid pandemic,” the department said as it announced the distribution May 1.

The relief fund also provides money to rural hospitals, many of which were already struggling before the outbreak. Hospitals in rural parts of New York are getting $264 million.

Tell us about the moments that have brought you hope, strength, humor and relief.

The coronavirus outbreak has brought much of life in New York to a halt and there is no clear end in sight. But there are also moments that offer a sliver of strength, hope, humor or some other type of relief: a joke from a stranger on line at the supermarket; a favor from a friend down the block; a great meal ordered from a restaurant we want to survive; trivia night via Zoom with the bar down the street.

We’d like to hear about your moments, the ones that are helping you through these dark times. A reporter or editor may contact you. Your information will not be published without your consent.

Reporting was contributed by Jonah Engel Bromwich, Maria Cramer, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Christina Goldbaum, Andy Newman, Sarah Maslin Nir, Azi Paybarah, Nate Schweber and Matt Stevens.

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