New York Is One Of The States Bearing The Brunt Of COVID-19 Pandemic

Mar 23, 2020
Originally published on March 23, 2020 9:51 am
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NOEL KING, HOST:

Tens of millions of Americans have been ordered to shelter in place. We're going to hear from three cities this morning - first, New York City, where our own Quil Lawrence is based. Quil, let me start by asking you how many cases are there right now in New York.

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: There's well over 15,000 cases, but that number is increasing 50% to 100% every couple of days. The curve is expected to peak sometime in April. And at that point, New York City will probably have twice as many patients as it has hospital beds and a catastrophic shortage of intensive care units with ventilators. Governor Cuomo says the Army Corps of Engineers is working to set up four temporary hospitals in the city.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANDREW CUOMO: We get these facilities up, we get the supplies, we will save lives. If we don't, we will lose lives.

LAWRENCE: He also announced some possible new treatments going into clinical trials this week in New York.

KING: And Governor Cuomo is asking for other things, correct?

LAWRENCE: Well, he wants the president to use the Defense Procurement Act, you know, to manufacture new supplies but also to control the supply and prevent price gouging. Right now states are competing with other states and driving up the prices, and the president could use that to just prioritize who gets what. Cuomo is also trying to inspire some hope or at least sort of frame this as a national effort, like World War II, a time that'll test us when Americans and New Yorkers will overcome it.

KING: What does New York City looks like right now?

LAWRENCE: It's unreal. You know, Times Square is lit up but deserted. Streets are empty. Restaurants are shut; they're doing a lot of takeout business. Still, over the weekend, the weather was warm, and people were out in Brooklyn's Prospect Park - probably too many people. Cuomo saw that and did not like it. He's ordered the city to find a way to crack down on public gatherings.

KING: What about people who can't stay home?

LAWRENCE: Yeah. I mean, some people still have to use the subway to go to essential businesses to work. I was outside Kings County Hospital here in Brooklyn. I met a man named Romeo Santana (ph) who's homeless and panhandling.

ROMEO SANTANA: I think my best option for me is to just be careful about things I touch and the way I actually interact with people physically.

LAWRENCE: Yeah. And so there are a huge number of people in New York City in similarly tough spots. As the virus numbers keep increasing and the economy slows down, more and more people are becoming vulnerable. Today the virtual schooling will start for kids around the city who are just starting to realize that they probably won't be going back to class this year. People who are in kindergarten are not going to go back until they're in the first grade. It's hitting hard.

KING: NPR's Quil Lawrence in New York.

Quil, thanks so much.

LAWRENCE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.