NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a somber update on the coronavirus pandemic Thursday as 100 died in the state in the past 24 hours alone and the infection rate keeps soaring above 21,000 in New York City.
Vowing to keep giving New Yorkers straight talk, the Democratic governor said the city and state are still heading into the worst days or weeks of the crisis.
"That's what comes first: the rate of increase in the number of cases," he said in a now-daily update. "That's what we are looking for."
Exactly 100 people died in New York state since the previous day's update, a grim milestone in the state that is considered the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. More than 3,700 have tested positive in New York City in the last 24 hours, raising the total in the city over 21,000.
Although horrifying, those numbers are not dramatically higher than the day before, perhaps offering the slightest glimmer of hope that the pandemic is no longer expanding exponentially.
The state's death toll stands at 385, up from 285 a day earlier. The pandemic's national death toll now stands at more than 1,000.
Cuomo warned that even best-case scenarios will see hospitals flooded to overflowing with coronavirus cases.
"Almost any scenario will overwhelm the health care capacity," he said, seeking to present an aura of calm amid the storm. "That's reality."
He asserted that hospitals have enough personal protective equipment for the "immediate future."
The governor pushed back on suggestions that New York City residents could be barred from leaving the city for upstate areas or ordered to self-quarantine.
Health Commissioner Howard Zucker says he disagrees with an edict from President Donald Trump that anyone leaving the city should be in quarantine for 15 days.
"I don't have any travel ban on my agenda," Cuomo said.
On the economic front, Cuomo called the pandemic a "double whammy" for New York City and the state as the pandemic inflicts widespread death and economic devastation.
He slammed Congress and Trump for "recklessly" shortchanging the state with just $5 billion in coronavirus expenses in the $2 trillion stimulus package.
"This was the time to put politics aside and partisanship aside," Cuomo said. "Just do your job. We are one nation. Address the places that need the help."
He downplayed the possibility that more aid may come in future plans.
"Maybe, maybe, maybe," he said. "The congressional action simply failed to address the governmental need. I'm disappointed."
The governor thanked Dr. Anthony Fauci for offering advice even as he juggles demands on his time.
Despite the grim update, Cuomo told New Yorkers that he is determined to keep leveling with them.
"Facts are empowering," he said. "We'll go from there."
He called the pandemic a true test of individuals and society as a whole.
"When the pressure is on you really see a crack in the foundation of a person. You can see that foundation crumble or you can see it get stronger," he said. "Easy times don't forge character. The tough times forge character."
He advised virus-weary New Yorkers to think about the heroes of the pandemic if they tire of staying indoors.
"They don't have the luxury of being tired," the governor said. "Yes, we're tired. But look at what others among us have to do. Who am I to complain?"