The number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 in New York State appears to have hit its apex and the numbers are plateauing, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Saturday.
Over the most recent 24-hour period, 783 Covid-19 deaths were reported statewide.
That figure is slightly below Thursday's single-day mark of 799 deaths and slightly above Friday's total of 777.
"These are just incredible numbers depicting incredible loss and pain," Cuomo said.
Statewide, the death toll so far during the coronavirus pandemic has reached 8,627 people. As of Friday, it was 7,844.
The number of people being infected and being admitted to hospitals with Covid-19 continues to rise, but at a lower rate than it had been, Cuomo said.
New York City and its suburbs have been the hardest-hit areas in the state by a wide margin.
On April 6, Cuomo announced schools and nonessential businesses would be closed statewide at least through April 29.
At this point in the crisis, the governor said, many are asking when businesses in the state will be allowed to reopen.
The question of when and how to reopen is both a public health and an economic question, Cuomo said.
"I am unwilling to divorce the two," he said.
Determining when and whether it is safe to proceed must be studied, Cuomo said, noting that he is putting together a group in the state with the "best minds" to provide guidance based on all the internationally available science.
Around the world, in places that are ahead of where New York is now, some places have reopened too quickly and subsequently experienced a growth in their infection rate, with some seeing a "second wave," Cuomo said.
"In my opinion, you can't ask the people of this state or this country to choose between lives lost and dollars gained," he said. "No one is going to make that quid pro quo."
Cuomo said he understands the restlessness of people who have been stuck in their homes for weeks and the desire to have a clear point in the future when we can say things will change. But he warned of making such a move too soon.
"The worst thing that can happen is we make a misstep and we let our emotions get ahead of our logic and fact and we go through this again in any manner, shape or form," he said.
This question of how long institutions should remain closed turned into a debate Saturday between the governor and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a frequent Cuomo sparring partner.
De Blasio announced Saturday morning that New York City schools would stay closed for the rest of the school year, but Cuomo soon afterward said the mayor didn't have the authority to reopen them.
“There has been no decision on schools,” Cuomo said during his press briefing Saturday.
He said the decision to reopen schools should be coordinated with the opening of businesses, and within a larger geographic area.
At a minimum, Cuomo said, schools within the New York City metropolitan area would reopen at the same time, and hopefully it could be coordinated statewide.
“It’s not going to be decided in the next few days. I can’t tell you what June is going to look like. I can’t tell you what May is going to look like,” Cuomo said.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, at his own briefing later Saturday, declined to pick sides in the squabble between Cuomo and de Blasio. However, he noted schools across New York remain closed through the end of the month per an executive order from the state.
News Staff Reporters Barbara O'Brien and Stephen T. Watson contributed to this report.