The coronavirus death toll in New York City has skyrocketed to more than 4,000 Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday evening deaths had risen by 806 to 3,544 in just 24 hours. The figure is almost double the number of deaths recorded Monday in the country’s coronavirus epicenter.
It comes Central Park was transformed into a 68-bed makeshift field hospital in just 48 hours to take the pressure off overwhelmed hospitals in the city.
The hospital has 41 patients currently – three of which are in the ICU – mostly from the hardest-hit boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
Central Park was transformed into a 68-bed makeshift field hospital in just 48 hours to take the pressure off overwhelmed hospitals the country’s coronavirus epicenter
The facility, run by Christian humanitarian group Samaritan’s Purse has just over 70 medics and can take 10 intensive care patients.
Samaritan’s Purse COVID Response team lead Dr Elliott Tenpenny told MSNBC: ‘We’re taking more patients all the time to help the people in New York City.
‘In partnership with Mount Sinai, we’re accepting patients and each day a certain number come through and we receive them throughout the day.
The hospital has 41 patients currently – three of which are in the ICU – mostly from the hardest-hit boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens
Samaritan’s Purse COVID Response team lead Dr Elliott Tenpenny said: ‘We’re taking more patients all the time to help the people in New York City’
He added: ‘The challenge is those two hospitals [Mount Sinai hospitals in Brooklyn and Queens], those two boroughs, are really the ones that have been hit the hardest early on in this pandemic in New York City.
‘We’ve been able to serve a great function here by offloading them and allowing them to treat more people.
‘This virus doesn’t just attack older Americans. There is greater risk for severe cases.
‘This virus doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t care how old you are. It’s attacking people of all ages.’
The organisation is also running a field hospital in Italy, the first time they have had two facilities open simultaneously.
He added: ‘We’ve only been open three or four days, but if our patients in Italy are any indication they could be here weeks. Two to three weeks even, the sicker patients.’
The coronavirus death toll in the US has hit more than 12,000 with more than 400,000 confirmed cases.
The facility, run by Christian humanitarian group Samaritan’s Purse has just over 70 medics and can take 10 intensive care patients with full ventilators
The field hospital is run by Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical group lead by Franklin Graham.
Mr Graham – who has a long history of anti-LGBTQ beliefs – makes all volunteers agree to a Statement of Faith which includes the line ‘marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female’, NBC News reports.
Activist William Talen – best known for his satirical character Reverend Billy – was arrested at the hospital and escorted away by six police officers, one clutching what is believed to be Mr Talen’s rainbow flag.
As he was being escorted away, the 69-year-old shouted: ‘They have no business being in New York City. They are the virus.’
Mr Talen allegedly jumped the perimeter of the hospital and planted a flag on the grounds before he was arrested.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio holds media availability on the coronavirus on Tuesday in which he claims that the city may be undercounting coronavirus deaths as those who have died in their homes without being tested or treated may have the virus but are not in official figures
It comes as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted Tuesday that the city’s coronavirus death toll may be higher than reported by officials.
De Blasio said that people who died in their homes in the past few weeks without having being tested or treated for COVID-19 likely had the disease.
The mayor also refused to comment on how bodies are going to be stored as the death toll jumped by 806 in 24 hours.
The refusal came after speculation emerged that Hart Island could be used as a temporary grave for COVID-19 victims.
The US is now barreling toward the infection’s projected peak day on April 16 when experts predict there will be more than 3,000 deaths in 24 hours.
Healthcare workers wheel the bodies of COVID-19 victims to a refrigerated trailer used as a temporary morgue outside of Wyckoff Heights Medical Center on Sunday. De Blasio has refused to comment on how New York City will deal with the surge in bodies from the virus
Medical workers wearing personal protective equipment wheel bodies to a refrigerated trailer serving as a makeshift morgue in Brooklyn. The city’s capacity to hold dead bodies has been expanded but Mayor de Blasio refused to comment on whether the current capacity is enough
‘I am assuming the vast majority of those deaths are coronavirus related,’ de Blasio said during his Tuesday briefing of the people who have died at home.
‘It’s understandable in a crisis that being able to make the confirmation is harder to do with all the resources stretched so thin…The first use of all of everything we’ve got – our professionals, our health care workers, our resources – the first thing we are focused on is saving the next life.
‘We do want to know the truth about what happened in every death at home,’ he added.
‘But I think we can say at this point, it’s right to assume the vast majority are coronavirus related and that makes it even more sober, the sense of how many people we are losing, how many families are suffering, how real this crisis is.’
The mayor has been pushed in recent days to comment on how the city intends to handle the surge in bodies as the coronavirus deaths continue to increase and as information spread that a city park may be used to temporarily bury bodies.
The story is believed to have come from an incorrect tweet from a city lawmaker.
Drone footage released Tuesday shows inmates in hazmat suits digging graves on NYC’s Hart Island suggesting that coronavirus victims could already be being temporarily buried there, as morgues across the city continue to overflow and the death toll ticks up.
The footage taken on Thursday – which is the day bodies are buried there every week – by The Hart Island Project shows inmates in hazmat suits digging graves on the island, possibly for victims of the virus which has claimed more than 3,500 lives across New York City and sickened more than 74,000. Ordinarily prisoners are seen digging in their prison uniforms.
Mayor Bill de Blasio did not confirm whether burials for coronavirus victims had been or would take place there but told reporters Monday: ‘We may well be dealing with temporary burials so we can then deal with each family later.
‘Obviously, the place we have used historically is Hart Island.’
Hart Island is ordinarily used to bury unidentified or unclaimed bodies. It was used for bodies after the Spanish Flu.
Public officials sparked panic and disgust this week by claiming some of the dead would be temporarily buried in public parks across the city.
That suggestion, made by councilman Mark Levine, has since been dismissed but the question of what to do with the escalating body count remains pertinent.
The mayor said Monday that officials have explored the possibility of temporary burials on Hart Island, a strip of land in Long Island Sound that has long served as the city’s potte’s field.
De Blasio told TV station NY1 that under such a contingency plan, bodies of COVID-19 victims would be buried individually so families could later reclaim them.
‘There will never, ever be anything like mass graves or mass internment in New York City, ever,’ de Blasio said.
The city was forced to address the issue of temporary burials Monday after a lawmaker incorrectly tweeted that the city would use a park for that purpose.
The city’s 2008 Pandemic Influenza Surge Plan states that Hart Island would be used as a temporary burial site in the event the death toll reaches the tens of thousands and if other storage, such as the refrigerator trucks parked outside hospitals, is full.
The mayor’s spokeswoman, Freddi Goldstein, stressed that the city government was not considering using local parks as cemeteries.
But she added that Hart Island, where around one million New Yorkers are already buried in mass graves, may be used ‘for temporary burials, if the need grows’.
Rikers Island inmates in hazmat suits dig graves on Hart Island on April 2. The island is where unidentified or unclaimed bodies have been buried for years. Now, the city is suggesting it could become a mass burial site for coronavirus victims. Burials ordinarily take place on Thursdays, which is when this video was filmed overhead
Interments of coronavirus fatalities on the island may already have taken place.
Melinda Hunt, the founder of the Hart Island Project, said drone video footage shot last week appears to show burials of COVID-19 patients who passed away.
De Blasio’s comments on undercounting the death toll came after the chair of NYC council health committee, Mark Levine, stated on Monday night that only those tested before they die are counted as COVID-19 victims, sparking fears the actual death toll could be far higher than the 3,500 already recorded.
Mark Levine tweeted: ‘Now only those few who had a test confirmation *before* dying are marked as victims of coronavirus on their death certificate. This almost certainly means we are undercounting the total number of victims of this pandemic.’
Levine was commenting on how the city is ‘managing its dead’ with morgues, funeral homes and cemeteries ‘dealing w/ the equivalent of an ongoing 9/11’.
He said ‘on an average day’ before this crisis there were between 20 and 25 deaths at home in NYC. He said there are now between 200 and 215 every day and ‘most of these people are not tested for coronavirus’.
Only those tested before they die are counted as COVID-19 victims, a New York City councilman said Monday, sparking fears the actual death toll could be far higher
For several days, state and city officials have been giving substantially different figures for the New York City death toll, with their counts sometimes hundreds of fatalities apart.
As of Tuesday morning, the city was reporting 3,202 deaths while state officials were reporting at least 4,009. A day earlier, the city’s count was 837 deaths lower than the state count.
The city’s total now stands at 3,544.
Asked about the discrepancy, state and city officials explained that they pull their numbers from different sources. The state figures come from reports submitted by health care facilities through an automated system. The city’s figures come from the city’s medical examiner and vital statistics reports.
The New York City Health Department said Tuesday that it would start reporting the state’s figures soon on its website ‘to ensure that we are being as consistent and comprehensive as possible’.
According to the state’s figures, more people have died from the coronavirus in New York City than perished in the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
At least 3,400 people have been killed in the city by the virus, according to a new count released by health officials.
The deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil killed 2,753 people in the city.
Another 224 died when hijacked planes slammed into the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on September 11, 2001.
The coronavirus death toll has mounted over the course of just a few weeks.
The city recorded its first fatality on March 13, less than two weeks after confirming its first infection.
NYC considers digging temporary graves for its coronavirus dead on Hart Island – which was used to dispose of Spanish Flu victims
Over the last 160 years Hart Island has been a Union Civil War prisoner-of-war camp, a psychiatric institution, tuberculosis sanatorium and a potter’s field burial site.
Since 1861 more than a million people have been buried there, with trucks still arriving at the site twice a week from morgues across New York.
One there inmates from Rikers Island are paid 50c an hour to act as pallbearers and bury the dead.
The dead are interred in trenches, with babies placed in coffins, which are stacked in groups of 1,000, measuring five coffins deep and usually in 20 rows.
Adults are placed in larger pine boxes arranged according to size and stacked in sections of 150, measuring three coffins deep in two rows.
Since the first decade of the 21st century there are fewer than 1,500 burials a year at Hart Island.
Hunt, who has documented Hart Island, added that help would be needed from the military when it came time to reunite families with the deceased.
Mayor Bill de Blasio himself spoke of the possibility of temporary burials ‘to tide us over until the end of the crisis.
‘We are not at that point,’ he told reporters, before refusing to give any more details.
On Monday morning, nine bodies were seen being loaded into trucks outside Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn.
Several undertakers interviewed said they were struggling to deal with New York state’s coronavirus death toll of more than 500 a day.
Between Friday and Saturday, a high of 630 deaths were recorded.