For the second straight day, New York suffered its largest daily loss of life during the Covid-19 pandemic, even as other statistical data pointed to a long-sought "flattening of the curve."
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo reported 779 lost lives for Tuesday, which surpassed Monday's total of 731 and put the state's death toll at 6,268.
"Today is a day, in the State of New York, with very mixed emotions, based on two very different pieces of information we have," Cuomo said from Albany during his daily coronavirus update.
"The bad news isn't just bad; the bad news is actually terrible," said Cuomo.
Cuomo is ordering that all flags in New York State be flown at half-staff in honor of those lost to the coronavirus.
"The number of deaths will continue to rise as those hospitalized for a longer period of time pass away. The longer you are on a ventilator, the less likely you are to come off the ventilator," he said. "There is the quote-unquote lagging indicator between hospitalization and deaths: The hospitalizations can start to drop; the deaths actually increase because of the people who have been in the hospital for 11, 14 days, 17 days, pass away. That's what we're seeing.
"I understand the science of it, the facts and the logic of it. It is still incredibly difficult to deal with. Every number is a face. That has been painfully obviously to me every day."
The science and logic Cuomo referenced was about other analytics categories. Hospitalizations and the three-day hospitalization rate both reduced, which results in a corresponding flattening of the coronavirus curve.
"If we stop what we are doing, you will see that curve change. That curve is purely a function of what we do day in and day out. But right now it's flattening."
Cuomo said that the state has taken steps to create more capacity in the hospital system "than ever before," saying that "if the rates decrease, the system should stabilize. ... That is all good news."
Cuomo announced that New York would provide an additional $600 weekly to all who filed for unemployment, saying that the state expects to be reimbursed by the federal government.
Cuomo, citing long, socially distanced lines for voting in Wisconsin's controversial primary Tuesday, said "the civic duty to vote shouldn't be opposed to public health" and that all New Yorkers would be able to vote by absentee ballot in the state's June 23 primaries.
"People shouldn't have to make that choice," he said, referring to people voting in Wisconsin.
The governor also announced that the state received 2,400 new BiPAP machines – which can be repurposed as ventilators in certain circumstances – from Mercury Medical, which were flown up from Florida by JetBlue at no cost.
On the subject of how to proceed on the other side of the coronavirus curve, the governor said testing will be important and will be a focus for the state.
"That is going to be the bridge from where we are today, to the new economy, in my opinion," Cuomo said. "It’s going to be a testing-informed transition to the new economy. Where people who have the antibodies, people who are negative, people who have been exposed and now are better, those are the people who can go to work, and you know who they are because you can do testing."
Cuomo reiterated that the state needs to maintain social distancing practices to continue the "good news" he spoke of.
"We still have more to do," he said. "We are by no means out of the woods. Do not misread what you are seeing. That is a pure product of our actions and behavior.
"If we behave differently, you will see that number change."