The first death of a homeless New Yorker from coronavirus has been recorded this week, city officials revealed.
New York City’s Department of Social Services announced that a single adult man in his 60s was hospitalized last week and that officials were alerted of his death Tuesday. His identity has not been released.
‘Tragically, one New Yorker experiencing homelessness succumbed to this virus after several days in the hospital – our hearts go out to this individual’s friends and family,’ spokesperson Isaac McGinn told ABC News.
‘What we’re seeing continues to track the trends across our city, state, and country – with more testing taking place, we’re effectively identifying more positives, which gives us the ability to immediately connect each individual to the care they need, whether in hospital or in isolation.’
The man’s death could further worry homeless advocates who say this population is particularly at risk during the global outbreak.
The homeless population is considered vulnerable because they frequent institutional settings and may not have consistent access to clean facilities.
DHS confirmed 39 positive COVID-19 cases among New York’s homeless population this week.
The New York Department of Homeless Services announced there were 17 coronavirus patients at 12 shelters citywide on Sunday night.
As of Thursday, New York Daily News reported that there were 39 people in 27 homeless shelters across the city tested positive for coronavirus. Twelve have been hospitalized.
Of the infected homeless population, McGinn said that one patient ‘completed their isolation and got back on their feet healthy.
In response, DHS have identified special housing units, including 500 designated isolated units in separate facilities that can house infected homeless patients.
There are approximately 65 individuals in isolation at two of the designated locations.
Nine individuals have been put into isolation units, nine are self-isolating inside their rooms and nine more are staying with family.
Coalition for the Homeless reports that there were 62,679 homeless people as of January 2020, while the Department of Housing and Urban Development said the number was closer to 78,604 in a 2019 report.
The New York City death follows California’s first death of a homeless California resident last week.
Ivan Klassen, director of community partnerships of the Los Angeles Mission, doubled down on reports that the homeless population has a higher rate of contracting the disease.
Klassen said: ‘Unfortunately, we are well aware of the sad fact that our homeless population is 30 percent more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus than those who are healthy because of their compromised respiratory systems.’
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that more than 30,800 people had tested positive for the virus in his state, the epicenter of the US outbreak, and more than 17,800 in New York City alone.
The state has reported 285 deaths and half the country’s reported infections. As of now, New York has reported the most coronavirus cases in the nation.
He said state measures to control the coronavirus appeared to be working as the rate of hospitalizations had slowed in recent days.
‘Now that is almost too good to be true…’ he said. ‘This is a very good sign and a positive sign, again not 100% sure it holds, or it’s accurate but the arrows are headed in the right direction.’
It comes as a makeshift morgue was set up outside Manhattan’s Bellevue hospital on Wednesday in a bid to handle any possible surge in coronavirus victims.
Armed military personnel and NYC Medical Examiner’s Office set up white tents and refrigeration trucks outside the hospital as health officials warned the city’s morgues were nearing capacity.
New York City also took aggressive new steps to battle the crisis on Wednesday by closing streets and asking people to stop playing basketball and other sports in public parks.
Gov Cuomo described street closures in New York City, where more than 8 million people live, as a pilot program. With closures to vehicles, the intention is to allow pedestrians to walk in the streets to enable greater ‘social distancing’ to avoid infections.
In a bid to help states tackle the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, President Donald issued a federal disaster declarations to free up federal funds for hard-hit states like New York and Louisiana.
A number of other U.S. states have also applied for major disaster relief status in recent days including Florida, Texas, New Jersey, North Carolina, Missouri, Maryland and South Carolina, as well as Northern Mariana Islands U.S. territory.
Unfortunately, several hospitals in New York City continue to see an influx of patients despite limited availability and dwindling resources.
The current hospitalization rate is 12 percent – a worrying figure especially given the looming ‘peak’ of cases which is expected to inundate hospitals in just three weeks. Three percent of cases require ICU.
That means there are currently 888 people in the state of New York needing intensive care and experts say the city’s hospitals are already close to overrun.
Cuomo stressed the need for more equipment – specifically ventilators – but said the arrows were pointing in the ‘right’ direction.
‘Evidence suggests density control is working. On Sunday, the projection was hospitalizations doubling every two days.
‘On Monday, it was doubling every 3.4 days. On Tuesday, it was 4.7 days.
‘That is almost too good to be true, but the theory is, given the density that we’re dealing with, it spreads very quickly but if you reduce the density, you can reduce the spread.’
Cuomo did not want to lean too heavily on the projections and said he’d seen them ‘bounce all over the place’.
‘I don’t place a great deal of stock in them but this is a very good sign and a positive sign.
‘I’m not 100 percent that it holds or that it’s accurate but the arrows are headed in the right direction,’ he said.
He warned that while many seem to be heeding his advice and not going out, there was a ‘problem’ with New York City parks and public spaces.
Over the weekend, scores of New Yorkers gathered in the parks because the weather was warm.
Cuomo, like Mayor Bill de Blasio said it had to stop.
If the city’s residents do not listen, de Blasio said he was considering closing the parks and playgrounds.
Cuomo said he does not want it to get to that but that he would close parks if he has to.
He also spoke of a trial in New York City to open streets but only to pedestrians to allow them to safely get fresh air.
He told that the social distancing was ‘burdensome’ but that if this was stopping the virus from spreading, it meant ‘everything’ to the fight against coronavirus because it means keeping the hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
He said that in New Rochelle, where a huge cluster of early cases was found, they had been able to ‘dramatically’ slow the spread.
Still, de Blasio predicted that half of New York City’s 8.6million residents would get coronavirus.
In total, the United States has reported more than 69,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths.
Wednesday became that deadliest day in the U.S. with more than 200 deaths.
Dr. Anthony Fauci issued a stark warning Wednesday that coronavirus may come back in cycles as the death toll in the United States hit 1035, with 252 people dying in a single day.
Speaking at the White House daily briefing the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that Americans should be prepared for the outbreak to ‘become seasonal’.
His caution came as Donald Trump appeared to soften his desire to lift the lockdown across the county by Easter. The president said he still wants to reopen within that timeframe but acknowledge not all states could meet his timeline.
Opening up the country at Easter rather than two weeks later could kill 450,000 more Americans, graphs published by The New York Times show.
Fauci told reporters: ‘Would this possibly become a seasonal, cyclic thing? I think it very well might.’
The Senate recently passed a 2.2trillion coronavirus bill in an unanimous vote. The bill will continue to the House for a vote and then needs Trump’s signature to officially instate the protocols.
The package would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home.
Most Americans making less than $75,000 as a single tax filer would receive a $1,200 direct payment under the bill.
The payments would go out by direct deposit for those who have recently paid taxes or received tax refunds that way, but for others physical checks will be sent.