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Bleak Records in N.Y. and N.J., but Leaders See Curve Flattening: Live Updates

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Credit...Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

Deaths in New York and New Jersey hit one-day highs again.

Deaths from the coronavirus spiked to new highs in both New York and New Jersey for a second straight day on Wednesday, underscoring the outbreak’s continued grip on the region even as other figures showed that its impact was beginning to slow.

Another 779 people in New York state died of the virus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo reported, compared with 731 the day before. In New Jersey, 275 people died, Gov. Philip D. Murphy said, up from 232 on Tuesday.

More people in the two states have died — a total of 7,772 — than in the rest of the United States combined.

Another grim distinction: New York State, with 149,316 confirmed cases, has had more people test positive for the virus than any country outside the United States, including Italy and Spain, the two other countries the pandemic has hit hardest.

But Mr. Cuomo said hospitalization figures continued to show the curve of infection flattening in the state. The number of virus patients in hospitals increased 3 percent since Tuesday, the fifth consecutive day of increases below 10 percent. By contrast, 25 percent increases have been typical in recent weeks.

“That death toll probably will be this high, or near this high or even higher for the next several days,” Mr. Cuomo said. But he added, “We are flattening the curve, thank God, thank God, thank God.”

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‘Not a Time to Get Complacent,’ Cuomo Says of Coronavirus Fight

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York addressed the state’s second straight day of high death tolls caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

We took dramatic actions in this state: New York Pause program to close down schools, businesses, social distancing and it’s working. It is flattening the curve, and we see that again today. But it’s not a time to get complacent. It’s not a time to do anything different than where we have been doing. Remember what happened in Italy when the entire health care system became overrun? So we have to remain diligent. We have to remain disciplined going forward. The bad news is actually terrible. Highest single-day death toll yet, 779 people. When you look at the numbers on the death toll, it has been going steadily up, and it reached a new height yesterday. The number of deaths, as a matter of fact, the number of deaths, will continue to rise as those hospitalized for a longer period of time pass away. Just to put a perspective on this, 9/11 which so many of us lived through in this state and in this nation, 2,753 lives lost — this crisis, we lost 6,268 New Yorkers. I’m going to direct all flags to be flown at half-mast, in honor of those who we have lost.

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York addressed the state’s second straight day of high death tolls caused by the coronavirus outbreak.CreditCredit...Kathy Willens/Associated Press

In New Jersey, Mr. Murphy shared a statistic showing that the growth in hospitalizations had virtually stopped: The number of hospitalized virus patients grew by just nine people, to 7,026 from 7,017 on Tuesday.

To further limit the virus’s spread, Mr. Murphy said he was ordering customers and workers at grocery stores to wear face masks, and capping the number of shoppers a store could allow in at half its usual capacity.

“We are in the fight of our lives and we remain in the fight of our lives,” he said.

Mr. Murphy also ordered all nonessential construction in New Jersey to halt starting Friday, a move Mr. Cuomo made on March 27. Mr. Murphy also said New Jersey’s presidential primary would be postponed to July 7 from June 2.

The new deaths announced on Wednesday brought New York State’s total to 6,298 — more than double the number who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks at the World Trade Center, Mr. Cuomo noted. He directed that all flags in the state be flown at half-staff, a step Mr. Murphy took on Sunday.

The virus is disproportionately killing blacks and Hispanics in New York.

Black and Hispanic people in New York City are about twice as likely to die of the virus as white people are, according to preliminary data released on Wednesday by the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said early Wednesday that the disparities reflected economic inequity and differences in access to health care.

“There are clear inequalities, clear disparities in how this disease is affecting the people of our city,” Mr. de Blasio said. “The truth is that in so many ways the negative affects of coronavirus, the pain it’s causing, the death it’s causing, tracks with other profound health care disparities that we have seen for years and decades.”

Mr. de Blasio and Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city’s health commissioner, stressed that some of the city’s Hispanic residents might have been discouraged from seeking medical care by the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has dominated the national discourse in recent years.

“The overlay of the anti-immigrant rhetoric across this country, I think, has real implications in the health of our community,” she said.

Mr. Cuomo said on Wednesday that the differences could be partly attributed to some groups having more untreated chronic health problems than others, making them more likely to die of the virus. But he also said that black and Hispanic people might also be disproportionately represented in the ranks of workers whose jobs on the front lines put them at risk.

“Are more public workers Latino and African-American?” the said. “Who doesn’t have a choice, frankly, but to go out there everyday and drive the bus and drive the train and show up for work and wind up subjecting themselves to, in this case, the virus — whereas many other people who had the option just absented themselves.”

According to the city’s data, the death rates for different ethnic groups are:

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Inequality Fuels Racial Disparities in Coronavirus Deaths, N.Y.C. Mayor Says

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York addressed the disproportionate coronavirus death rates among Hispanic and black residents.

Here is a disease that has hurt people, hurt families in every corner of our city, let’s be clear. Every community, every zip code, has been hurt by this disease. Families are grieving right now across every part of the five boroughs. But we also now have information that points out that there are clear inequalities, clear disparities in how this disease is affecting the people of our city. The deaths because of Covid-19 in this city, first and foremost, have affected the Hispanic community with 34 percent of the deaths. That community is about 29 percent of all New Yorkers in terms of population, but 34 percent of the deaths. The black community, 28 percent of the deaths, compared to about 22 percent of the overall population. The white community, 27 percent of the deaths compared to about 32 percent of the overall population. The Asian community, 7 percent of the deaths compared to about 14 percent of the overall population. The disparities that have plagued this city, this nation — that are all about fundamental inequality — are once again causing such pain and causing people, innocent people, to lose their lives. It’s just abundantly clear: It’s sick, it’s troubling, it’s wrong and we’re going to fight back with everything we got.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York addressed the disproportionate coronavirus death rates among Hispanic and black residents.CreditCredit...Frank Franklin Ii/Associated Press

The fatality figures were consistent with data on confirmed virus cases released by the city last week. In the first month of the outbreak in the city — the epicenter of America’s virus crisis — many of the neighborhoods with the most confirmed cases were in areas with the lowest median incomes, the data showed.

Mr. de Blasio said that the city would redouble its efforts to support public hospitals, where many of the poorest residents turn for help and which have often been overwhelmed trying to care for virus patients.

He cited Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, where conditions in late March were described as “apocalyptic.”

“We must ensure that that hospital has all the personnel it needs, all the ventilators it needs, all the P.P.E., everything,” Mr. de Blasio said, referring to personal protective equipment. “This is about the most essential concept of ensuring that everyone gets health care regardless of their background, regardless of their ZIP code, regardless of their income.”

Mr. de Blasio said that the city would also work on making it easier for someone calling 311 — no matter what language they speak — to be patched through to a health care worker who can answer their questions.

The pattern in deaths is found throughout the state, and African-Americans have been disproportionately affected in other states as well.

In New York State outside the city, black people are more than twice as likely to die of the virus as white people, and Hispanic people are about 50 percent more likely to die than white people, according to figures released on Wednesday by the state Health Department.

A hospital transferred ventilated patients over oxygen concerns.

A Queens hospital, concerned about the capacity of its oxygen system, moved 17 virus patients who were on ventilators to other hospitals late Tuesday, officials said.

It was the first known instance of patients on ventilators in New York City being moved because of oxygen-supply concerns amid the pandemic.

The transfers, from the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center to an Albany hospital, a Navy hospital ship and a Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Manhattan, were made using helicopters and ambulances and overseen by state and city officials.

Seven patients from Flushing Hospital Medical Center, part of the same hospital network, were also transferred late Tuesday because of bed capacity, said Michael Hinck, a spokesman for both the institutions.

At the Jamaica hospital, the large number of patients requiring oxygen caused concerns about the oxygen system.

Ten of the patients were sent to the hospital ship, the U.S.N.S. Comfort, five to the Albany Medical Center and two to the Manhattan campus of the New York Harbor Healthcare System, a city official said.

Two patients who were transferred out the Flushing hospital also went to the Albany hospital, the official said; at least some of the others were taken to the Comfort.

Several other New York Hospitals, including Lenox Hill and NYU-Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, have had oxygen-supply problems in recent days because of the high number of virus patients who have required oxygen. The problems did not require patient transfers.

Broadway will remain closed at least until June.

Broadway will remain closed for at least another two months, industry leaders said Wednesday.

The Broadway League, a trade association representing producers and theater owners, said the 41 Broadway houses would remain shuttered at least through June 7. But industry leaders widely expect the theaters to remain closed longer — many say that a best-case scenario is reopening following the July 4 weekend, and that it is possible that the industry will not reopen until after Labor Day.

The pandemic that has battered the global economy is also wreaking havoc with the theater industry. Broadway is not only an important center for the art form, but is also big business: The industry drew 14.8 million patrons last season and grossed $1.8 billion.

The industry, like so many others, is on pause, at the cost of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars.

How delays and missed chances hindered New York’s virus fight.

A 39-year-old woman flew home to New York from Qatar in late February, the final leg of her trip from Iran.

On March 1, she tested positive for the coronavirus, the first confirmed case in New York City of an outbreak that had already devastated China and parts of Europe. The next day, Governor Cuomo, appearing with Mayor de Blasio at a news conference, promised that health investigators would track down every person on the woman’s flight. But no one did.

A day later, a lawyer from New Rochelle, a New York City suburb, also tested positive — an alarming sign because he had not traveled to any affected country.

Although city investigators had traced the lawyer’s whereabouts and connections to the most crowded corridors of Manhattan, the state’s efforts focused on the suburb, not the city, and Mr. de Blasio urged the public not to worry. “We’ll tell you the second we think you should change your behavior,” the mayor said on March 5.

For many days as the coronavirus silently spread, Mr. Cuomo, Mr. de Blasio and their top aides projected unswerving confidence that the outbreak would be contained.

There would be cases, they said, but New York’s hospitals were some of the best in the world. Plans were in place. Responses had been rehearsed during “tabletop” exercises. After all, the city had been here before — Ebola, Zika, the H1N1 virus, even Sept. 11.

“Excuse our arrogance as New Yorkers — I speak for the mayor also on this one — we think we have the best health care system on the planet right here in New York,” Mr. Cuomo said on March 2. “So, when you’re saying, what happened in other countries versus what happened here, we don’t even think it’s going to be as bad as it was in other countries.”

Now New York City and its suburbs have become the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, with far more cases than many countries have.

More than 138,000 people in the state have tested positive for the virus, nearly all in the city and nearby suburbs. More than 5,000 have died.

And, The New York Times found, initial efforts by New York officials to stem the outbreak were hampered by their own confused guidance, unheeded warnings, delayed decisions and political infighting.

A social-distancing dispute led to a homicide, officials said.

On March 28, around the time the coronavirus flooded hospitals across New York City with desperately ill people, an 86-year-old woman with dementia lost her bearings and started wandering the emergency room at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center in Brooklyn.

The woman, Janie Marshall, grabbed onto another patient’s IV pole to regain her balance and orient herself, the police said.

The patient, Cassandra Lundy, 32, had apparently become irate that Ms. Marshall had breached the six feet of space recommended to help prevent the virus’s spread, law enforcement officials said. Ms. Lundy shoved Ms. Marshall, knocking her to the floor.

Ms. Marshall struck her head and died three hours later.

Ms. Marshall’s death underscored how hospital officials are struggling to keep order in health care facilities overrun by the pandemic, as crowding generates a new level of fear and anxiety.

Initially, hospital officials handed Ms. Lundy a summons for disorderly conduct. But a week later, after the medical examiner ruled Ms. Marshall’s death a homicide, the police charged Ms. Lundy with manslaughter and assault.

“How do you put your hands on a 86-year-old woman?” said Ms. Marshall’s grandniece, Antoinette Leonard Jean Charles. “I also understand the fear level every person in New York has. There is a notion of every man for themselves. But attacking an elderly person? That went too far.”

Reporting was contributed by Jonah Engel Bromwich, Lindsey Cook, Nick Corasaniti, Maria Cramer, J. David Goodman, Matthew Haag, Jesse McKinley, Andy Newman, Michael Paulson, William K. Rashbaum, Edgar Sandoval and Matt Stevens. Alain Delaquérière contributed research.

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