Surprise! The COVID-19 pandemic was unfolding in New York State a lot earlier than we thought. According to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his April 24 press briefing, it is now assumed that there were up to 28,000 COVID-19 cases in the United States as early as February (January 26 marked the first recorded cases in Seattle and California). Of that total, in New York State alone there were 10,000 cases, likely coming over the Atlantic from Italy. Cuomo noted that, at the time, 13,000 international flights landed in airports in New York City and New Jersey, carrying some 2.2 million travelers from Europe.
To drive home the point, Cuomo noted the survival rate of the virus itself. It can live up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel surfaces, up to 24 hours on cardboard, up to 4 hours on copper and the droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze can hang in the air for as many as 3 hours before they fall to the ground.
Those data were shown to represent how fast the virus spread throughout the world (and the state)—and how careful the state has to be in reopening, given the possibility that there could be a “second wave” of the virus in the fall. To date, total hospitalizations and intubations continue to decline, and the number of new infections continues to flatten. The total number of COVID-19-related deaths also appears to be dipping, with 422 reported on April 23, as opposed to 438 on April 22. The real question, though, per Cuomo, is “how fast is the decline?”
In order to ensure that New Yorkers don’t have to risk exposure to the virus during elections, Governor Cuomo also announced that all New Yorkers would be sent forms that allow them to absentee vote for upcoming elections.