ALBANY, N.Y. (WCAX) New York state reported a record increase in coronavirus deaths for a third consecutive day. Thursday's death toll hit 799 and the total statewide death toll stands at 7,067.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said despite the tragic numbers, the state is saving lives and now is the time to redouble efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
While deaths continue to trend higher from the severely ill who have been hospitalized for long periods of time, the number of new patients entering New York hospitals continues to trend downward.
Cuomo says this is evidence that proves shutting down society as we know it and following social distancing guidelines is working.
"Well, we're flattening the curve, that's good news. It is good news. Well, now I can relax. No, you can't relax. The flattening of the curve last night happened because of what we did yesterday and the day before and the day before that," said Cuomo, D-New York.
The governor says if people don't continue to stay home and keep their distance from others, the infection rate will quickly climb again.
But he says at the current rate of cases, New York will stay well below worst-case projections and be able to provide care for everyone who gets sick.
Cuomo said hospitals have so far stood up under the strain. He says the trend of ICU cases and intubations in hospitals continues to fall. As of Thursday, there were about 18,000 hospitalized.
Meanwhile, the governor said the state's unemployment system has been flooded with claims and the state is working with Google to streamline the application process.
Cuomo warned that future waves of the virus will likely come back and that New Yorkers are only in the first battle of a larger war.
"We're not out of the woods and now is not the time to misunderstand what's happening," he said.
He was asked repeatedly when emergency orders might be eased. But the governor refused to provide any estimates, saying they would only be a guess. He said the decision will be driven by data from health officials.
New York state health officials now say they support people wearing cloth face coverings when they go out in public, especially in areas of "significant community transmission." The Cuomo administration had previously said it wasn't clear whether face masks are effective based on CDC recommendations.