For the first time in his daily briefings on the Covid-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday offered the faintest ray of optimism about eventually overcoming the pandemic that has now claimed 4,159 New Yorkers.
But any optimism comes with caveats. Maybe. Possibly. And with much more data to analyze.
And he also defended his plan to allocate ventilators to where they are needed most.
The governor told reporters at the Capitol in Albany that the newest numbers associated with the illness indicate the state is either approaching its anticipated "apex" of coronavirus deaths, or possibly a "plateau" in which a significant number of cases will continue for a sustained period.
"The number of deaths over the past few days has been dropping for the first time. What is the significance of that? It's too early to tell," he said, adding he is hopeful the new data represents not just a "blip" but "the beginning of a shift."
But he cautioned that medical experts must analyze the latest statistics over several days before reaching any solid conclusions.
"There's a difference of, is the apex a point or is the apex a plateau," he said. "In other words you go up, hit the high and then immediately drop. Or do you go up and then there's a plateau where the number of cases stays high for a period of time and then drops?"
Still, he said the "operational challenge for the health care system is impossible."
"We're basically saying to a system ... you have to manage with the same resources that you have, same staff, an over-capacity situation," he said. "And that is putting a tremendous amount of stress on the health care system."
The governor also stuck by his plan to share the state's supply of ventilators for those in respiratory distress because of the virus, despite pushback from Western New York hospital officials and political leaders intent on safeguarding the coveted machines in case of a local uptick in cases.
"The concept here that people have to get is that nobody can handle this alone – nobody," he said, adding the state will properly allocate the machines to where the need is greatest.
"Buffalo – we'll be there," he said. "If I have to get in a truck and drive [a ventilator] from Montauk Point to Buffalo, we'll get it there."
Cuomo also announced the federal government is assigning approximately 1,000 personnel to New York State, including doctors, nurses, respiratory technicians and therapists to help the state's overwhelmed hospital systems. The first 325 personnel were expected to report to the New York City hospital system Sunday.
" I know how much we are asking of our health care workers on the front line," he said, "and I thank them for everything they are doing because they are true heroes."
Cuomo also confirmed 8,327 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 122,031.
And the governor said he and other health officials are beginning to recognize another serious byproduct of the virus and its quarantine requirements – cabin fever.
"It's a real situation," he said, pointing to feelings of isolation, mood swings and irrational outbursts that can result from being stuck inside.
"I'm going to start running again," he said.