(Bloomberg) -- Coronavirus deaths continued to climb sharply in New York and New Jersey, the nation’s epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, with governors of both states releasing data showing a doubling of fatalities in the past three days.
New York reported a 25% one-day increase in fatalities on Wednesday and New Jersey reported a 33% increase, with nearly 500 people in the two states dying in a single day.
New York’s death toll reached almost 2,000 victims, while New Jersey -- where infections spread more slowly and in smaller numbers at first but are now rapidly increasing -- has recorded more than 350 deaths. As of Sunday, the two states had a combined death toll of about 1,000.
The rise in deaths has coincided with an uptick in the mortality rates of the disease in both states. After trailing the national mortality rate of 2.2%, both have risen as of Wednesday, with 2.3% of New York cases ending in death and 1.5% of New Jersey cases.
New Jersey’s governor, Phil Murphy, warned that the state would soon need more space to store deceased victims, and that it may resort to using refrigerated trucks.
The stark statistics came as evidence mounted that the region’s health care system was reaching its limits. New York moved patients from overtaxed hospitals in the New York City area to upstate facilities in Albany for the first time, and New Jersey temporarily approached the ceiling of its hospital capacity and began using converted anesthesia machines as ventilators.
Even after New York gets past the apex of the crisis in late April, Cuomo said, the state is likely to have an elevated death rate into July. He also said that patients whose conditions became so severe that they require ventilator support don’t face strong chances of survival. By one model provided by a unit of the Gates Foundation, there could be 16,000 deaths in New York -- and 93,000 nationwide.
“That means you’re going to have tens of thousands of deaths outside of New York. So to the extent people watch their nightly news in Kansas and say, ‘Well, this is a New York problem,’ no, that means right now it’s a New York problem. Tomorrow it’s a Kansas problem,” Cuomo said. “Look at our numbers today and see yourself tomorrow.
New Jersey has the second-highest number of virus cases after New York. Both states have issued stay-at-home orders, closing schools and nonessential businesses.
Murphy’s top priority this week has been securing ventilators ahead of an expected surge in Covid-19 hospitalizations. On Wednesday, he said the federal government had committed to sending another 350 ventilators, for 850 total. He said that he was grateful for the equipment but that it was far fewer than the 2,300 ventilators the state had requested. He also said the state had spent “tens and tens of millions of dollars” for millions of masks, gloves and other disposable medical goods.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Murphy said he was also looking to recruit more health-care workers. On Wednesday, he signed an executive order for license waivers and other exceptions to admit out-of-state medical professionals.
“We need to bolster their ranks,” Murphy said.
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