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NY coronavirus death toll reaches another daily high; unemployment system to be upgraded


Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced the highest daily death toll yet, saying  799 New Yorkers died of the coronavirus.

“You’re talking about 799 lives,” said Cuomo, who said he has to bring in additional funeral directors to deal with all of the dead.

"If you ever told me as governor I’d have to take these actions, I couldn’t even contemplate," Cuomo said.

The trend of fewer people being admitted to hospitals with the virus continues downward, with 200 people being admitted Wednesday. Cuomo said that’s the lowest number since the "nightmare" began.

But he said it’s not time to ease any of the restrictions on businesses, schools and public gatherings. He said social distancing is likely the reason why the numbers are starting to go down.

Unemployment improvements

Cuomo said changes will be made later Thursday to the state’s unemployment website and phone system, in hopes of ending what he admitted is the "infuriating" instances where jobless New Yorkers are faced with long wait times or constant busy signals when they try to file for unemployment.

His chief of staff, Melissa DeRosa, said the system will be shutting down between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday, to reboot what is hoped will be a better system.

"It’s streamlined, there are fewer questions," said DeRosa, who said the new system will require one of the 1,000 people now at the call centers to call back the applicant within 72 hours if any additional information is needed. 

DeRosa said over 800,000 New Yorkers have filed claims for unemployment, and around 600,000 have been processed.

Once someone is successfully signed up for unemployment, the benefits will be paid retroactively to the day when the person lost their job.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.