It had been no typical Easter Sunday here in New York. On Monday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state’s death toll during the holiday brought the total number of reported COVID-19 fatalities here above 10,000.
As the the governor has discussed in recent days, the number of new cases is not rising but has leveled off at a plateau for now. Still, Cuomo stressed that breaking the 10,000 death mark on a “high holy day” represented yet more salt in the Empire State’s grievous wound.
“The terrible news is as terrible as it gets and the worst news I’ve had to deliver to the people of this state as the governor of New York and the worst news I’ve had to live with on a personal level; number of deaths is 671,” the governor said. “Not as bad as it has been in the past and basically flat at a horrific level of pain and grief and sorrow… these are people who passed away on Easter Sunday,”
Cuomo compared restarting the economy to opening a valve slowly and in coordination with testing data. The pace at which the state allows typical life activities and commerce to recommence will be a “delicate balance,” which could sabotage all the progress made thus far if done too fast, according to the governor.
“What are we doing on reopening? We are easing isolation, we want to increase economic activity, that will happen basically through a recalibration of who are our essential workers,” Cuomo said. “You’ll start to open that valve on the economic activity… Do it carefully, do it slowly, and do it intelligently.”
The pandemic will not be over until health officials tell the public that there is a vaccine or effective treatment and that they can be deployed widely.
Northwell Health, one of New York’s major resources for expanding and standardizing care for COVID-19 patients across the state, is emblematic of the way forward. Following federal Food and Drug Administration guidelines, it is developing an antibody plasma therapy solution through its research arm, the Feinstein Institute. Coronavirus patients who have tested positive and either showed no symptoms or have recovered can donate their plasma at New York Blood Center locations, according to Northwell, after sighing up through its registry here. The hope is that the immunity conferred on the donors can be used to alleviate symptoms of those who are ill.
Gay and bisexual men who have engaged in sex in the prior three months, as well as any of their female or non-binary sexual partners, are ineligible to donate their plasma.