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Half of New Yorkers likely to get coronavirus, de Blasio says



Bill de Blasio | Getty Images

Bill de Blasio. | Getty Images

New Yorkers should expect that half the city’s population will get coronavirus by the time the pandemic runs its course, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

The mayor made the grim prediction as the number of New Yorkers who have died from the disease rose to 199 on Wednesday morning, and confirmed cases in the city jumped to 17,856. Those numbers far understate the true scope of the spread, officials said, since people not sick enough to be hospitalized are largely unable to get tested.

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“It’s a fair bet to say that half of all New Yorkers, and maybe more than half, will end up contracting this disease,” de Blasio told reporters. “And that’s worrisome, very deeply worrisome, for all of us, but we have to start with the truth.”

If half of the city does get infected, that would add up to 4.2 million people contracting the virus.

That could happen by September, when officials predict the outbreak will wind down. “It could also be much higher,” said city Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot.

Eighty percent of those infected are expected to have relatively mild cases, while roughly 20 percent are likely to be hospitalized.

The city is adding new morgue facilities in tents and trailers to hold the corpses, as existing morgues near their capacity. A large tent and refrigerated trucks have been set up near Bellevue hospital on Manhattan’s East Side.

“I know the morgues push a really strong emotional button, obviously. We’re all humans. It’s a very troubling thing to see, and it makes it very immediate, very visceral,” de Blasio said. “It’s going to be very, very painful.”

The majority of those infected so far — 56 percent, according to Health Department data — are under the age of 50.

But more than 75 percent of those hospitalized and all but five people who have died are over 45.

The number of infections has continued to grow despite a statewide shutdown of non-essential businesses and ban on gatherings.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams called for a “full lockdown,” which would prohibit New Yorkers from leaving their immediate neighborhoods except for essential work, close parks and shut down construction. He said the city should also consider assigning people specific times during which they’re allowed to leave the house to get groceries.

“We need a mandated lockdown, and we needed it yesterday,” he said in an online press conference.

De Blasio said he is not considering closing parks, but may shut playgrounds on Saturday if families aren’t following rules to stay six feet away from other people. The city is also removing 80 basketball hoops at courts where illicit games continued.

As he grapples with managing the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S., the mayor bashed a massive federal stimulus bill for offering little direct aid to New York City, echoing criticism from Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier in the day.

The city government is only set to receive about $1.3 billion, out of $150 billion offered to states and localities.

“It should have been one of the easiest no-brainers in the world for the U.S. Senate to include real money for New York City and New York state in this stimulus bill, and that didn’t happen,” he said, blaming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the omission.

He said he plans to call President Donald Trump directly to ask for more.

“Everyone in the country knows New York City is the epicenter of this crisis,” de Blasio said. “We are one third of cases in the country right now. Someone do the math down there in Washington.”



Source Website Half of New Yorkers likely to get coronavirus, de Blasio says

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