ALBANY — The number of New Yorkers who have tested positive for the coronavirus climbed to 2,959 Thursday morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
The new total reflects an increase of more than 500 positive results since Wednesday afternoon, when state officials said 2,382 individuals were confirmed as having been infected. The hospitalization rate of those infected in New York has been estimated at about 23 percent.
Cuomo, in a series of network news television interviews, said he is requesting that the Trump administration direct manufacturers to speed up the production of ventilators.
He estimated the state will need an additional 30,000 ventilators He estimated New York's current supply at 5,000 to 6,000 of the devices used for patients with serious respiratory problems.
"There is something called the Federal Defense Procurement Act," Cuomo told a CNN interviewer as he sat next to a ventilator.
"This is a war. Treat it like a war. Say to the manufacturers in this country, 'I need you to build these pieces of equipment quickly,' certainly the gear, the machine next to me, the ventilator, this is going to be the matter of life and death for people."
"The health care system is going to be overwhelmed,” Cuomo said in an NBC interview.
“The question is now to what extent and with what consequence?"
He strongly objected to the notion that a quarantine or shelter-in-place order is needed to curb the spread of the virus.
“I am not going to imprison anyone in the state of New York,” the governor said on CNN. “I am not going to do martial law in the state of New York."
About 8,000 people have been tested across the state, he said.
"The fear is spreading faster than the virus is spreading," he said.
Cuomo also voiced his opposition to reports that some celebrities have had immediate access to testing while many other people have to wait for prolonged periods.
"If someone is getting priority, that is 100 percent wrong," he said.
New York has the highest number of people infected by the virus in the nation.
Cuomo has ordered shopping malls across the state to close beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday. Many companies have been ordered to reduce staffing at their work sites by 50 percent, though employees can work from home to achieve the reduction being sought as part of a density reduction strategy to counter the spread of the contagion.
This is a developing story and will be updated later in the day.
Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach him at email@example.com.