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Stay up to date with the latest news on the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. We'll post regular updates from NPR and regional news from the WRVO newsroom. You can also find updates on our live blog.

Scramble for hospital beds, equipment as virus spreads


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — It’s the first St. Patrick’s Day in more than 250 years without a large parade in New York City, but that didn’t stop a few dozen organizers from marching in a makeshift celebration as the city ground to a halt Tuesday, the first full day without restaurants except for takeout orders amid the coronavirus crisis. State officials scrambled to bring more hospital beds online as the number of confirmed cases in the state rose above 1,300.

Here are the latest coronavirus developments in New York:


Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that demand for hospital beds in New York state could outstrip current capacity by tens of thousands when cases of the coronavirus reaches an expected peak in 45 days.

Cuomo revealed the projections as confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus statewide shot up to more than 1,300. There were 264 hospitalizations and 12 deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

State and city officials are taking extraordinary efforts to avoid a worst-case scenario by slowing the spread of the virus. New York has jointly ordered the closings of bars, restaurants, gyms and other businesses with New Jersey and Connecticut, and Cuomo said the states could coordinate on more limitations.

Officials are also scrambling to increase the number of hospital beds in New York from 53,000, with 3,000 ICU beds.

Cuomo said the at the current rate of spread, the state would need 55,000 to 110,000 hospital beds and 18,600 to 37,200 ICU beds

“The numbers are daunting,” he said.

Cuomo said the state also will need more ventilators to help patients breathe.


Cuomo said he no interest in imposing local quarantines, despite calls for New York City to follow the lead of the San Francisco area.

Cuomo said Tuesday that city-wide quarantines would just encourage people to stay with friends or relatives outside the zone, making transmission problems worse.

“I have no interest whatsoever, and no plan whatsoever, to quarantine any city,” he said.

Cuomo said more restrictions on business would come first and that a quarantine would have to be at least statewide.

The comments came as New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson told radio station WNYC that city residents should be ordered to stay in their homes like they are across the country.

Officials in six San Francisco Bay Area counties issued a “shelter-in-place” order that went into effect Tuesday, requiring nearly 7 million residents to stay inside and venture out only for food, medicine or exercise for three weeks.


A sharp increase in laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits strained New York state’s online application system.

The surge came after Cuomo announced the state is waiving its seven-day waiting period for workers to claim unemployment insurance if they have been put out of work by the coronavirus.

Labor officials said they received 8,758 calls by noon Monday, compared to 2,542 calls the previous Monday. Some people complained on social media that they had trouble applying online.

Department of Labor spokeswoman Deanna Cohen said in an email Tuesday there were “glitches on and off due to the rapid influx of users,” but that the system was working Tuesday.

Also, state officials announced they will halt for at least 30 days the collection of medical and student debt owed to New York.