NEW YORK - New York State saw its largest single-day death toll from the coronavirus on Tuesday, even as hospitalizations are beginning to plateau.
Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters that 731 residents had succumbed to the virus in the past 24 hours, raising the statewide death toll to 5,489.
"We talk about numbers, but that is 731 people who we lost," the governor said. "Behind every one of those numbers is an individual, is a family - is a mother, is a father, is a sister, is a brother. So a lot of pain again today for many New Yorkers and they are in our thoughts and prayers."
To put it in context, Britain, which has a population three times that of New York State - has suffered a slightly lower number of deaths.
Cuomo said he is still projecting that the state - which has recorded nearly 140,000 confirmed virus cases - is reaching a plateau on hospitalizations. The numbers of patients requiring intubation to breathe and intensive care treatment are also starting to slow.
"Again this a projection, it still depends on what we do, and what we do will affect these numbers," he cautioned, reminding people to continue to be vigilant about staying home and social distancing.
The governor also said the state health department has approved an antibody test to determine who has contracted the virus and recovered from it, and would likely be immune to it. He called on private sector companies to work with the state to produce the tests, because they will be needed on a massive scale to test enough people to get local businesses and schools back up and running.
Meanwhile, the mayor of New York City said it is losing the economic battle caused by the virus.
"The number is staggering - the initial projection is that at least half a million New Yorkers are either already out of work or soon will be," Bill de Blasio said. "The only comparison you can make for that is the Great Depression, which scares me to death to even say that."
He said in the last three weeks, the city has served 2.6 million meals to New Yorkers.
"We will not let any New Yorker go hungry," the mayor said. "We have been planning from beginning of this crisis to address the hunger problem, because we understood this would be a profound part of what we would face."
The city has over 400 sites where both students and adults can pick up meals, and there are programs to deliver food to the elderly and homebound.