'Staggering': New York virus death toll rises above 1,200

ALBANY, N.Y. (WCAX) New York remains the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic with a big spike in deaths over the past 24 hours.

Across the state, New York has 66,497 people who have tested positive for COVID-19. Some 9,517 of those people are currently hospitalized. And New York now has 1,218 deaths-- nearly half of all the deaths in the country so far.

Only one county in the state does not have a COVID-19 case. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made it clear at a press conference on Monday that this is not a New York City problem, even though it is ground zero for the coronavirus in the U.S. He called the level of intensity and density in New York something enever seen before, and predicted other cities will see this, too.

The governor described health care workers as the soldiers on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus and he made a plea for more health care workers from other parts of New York and other states to come help fight the battle.

"As governor of New York, I am asking health care professionals across the country, if you don't have a health care crisis in your community, please come help us in New York now," said Cuomo, D-New York.

Cuomo says New York needs relief for doctors and nurses working 12-hour shifts day after day. And he says New York will return the favor when the crisis has moved to other parts of the country.

He said there is still a shortage of medical supplies and New York needs to stockpile now because the peak is still coming. He said the state "needs to prepare before the storm hits."

A Navy hospital ship has arrived in New York City to help relieve the coronavirus crisis gripping New York City's hospitals. The USNS Comfort has 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms that could be up and running within 24 hours of its arrival Monday morning. It's expected to bolster a besieged health care system by treating noncoronavirus patients while hospitals treat people with COVID-19.