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Society

Most New COVID-19 Patients in NY Not Working, Older: Survey

NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that most new COVID-19 patients coming into New York hospitals had not been working or traveling. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that rising coronavirus infection rates outside of the New York metropolitan area should serve as a warning to other states not to reopen their economies too quickly. 

Coronavirus developments in New York:

WHO IS HOSPITALIZED?

Most new COVID-19 patients coming into New York hospitals are either unemployed or retired and are older than 50, according to a new state survey. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released the preliminary survey results with new admissions still at 600 a day statewide, despite six weeks of severe social distancing. Though hospitalization rates are dropping slowly, health officials want to target their outbreak-fighting efforts more precisely. 

The three-day survey of 113 hospitals confounded expectations that new cases would be dominated by essential workers, especially those traveling on public transportation. 

Instead, retirees accounted for 37% of hospitalizations during the survey period and another 46% were unemployed. Almost three-quarters were 51 years or older. 

Two-thirds of new patients were listed as coming from homes as opposed to assisted living facilities, nursing homes, prisons or other institutions. Only 4% used public transportation in their daily life, according to the survey.

"It reinforces what we've been saying, which is much of this comes down to what you do to protect yourself," Cuomo said at his daily briefing. "Everything is closed down, the government has done everything it could … now it's up to you. Are you wearing a mask, are you doing the hand sanitizer?"

Many survey results conformed with previous findings. More than half the hospitalizations were in New York City. African-Americans accounted for 21% of hospitalizations and Hispanics another 17%.

NEW YORK MAYOR: LEARN FROM OUR EXAMPLE

De Blasio said on CNN's "New Day" that new data showing rates of new coronavirus infections declining in the New York metropolitan area but rising in other parts of the country suggest that other states may be moving too quickly to open up businesses and loosen restrictions on gatherings.

"This desire to restart and open up without necessarily referencing the actual facts of what's going on is dangerous," de Blasio said. 

The mayor said New Yorkers have succeeded in lowering virus infection rates by largely following social distancing orders and by covering their faces in public. "My message to the rest of the country is learn from how much effort, how much discipline it took to finally bring these numbers down and follow the same path until you're sure that it's being beaten back or else if this thing boomerangs you're putting off any kind of restart or recovery a hell of a lot longer," he said.

De Blasio said at his daily coronavirus briefing later Wednesday that advisory councils on small business, the arts and culture, faith-based institutions and other sectors are being set up to help guide the city's eventual reopening. The councils will have 20 to 40 members each and will be led by deputy mayors, he said. 

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SUBWAYS CLOSE FOR CLEANING

City outreach workers persuaded 139 homeless people to leave the subways system and enter a shelter on Wednesday during the first overnight that the subways were closed for cleaning because of the coronavirus pandemic, de Blasio said. "That's an extraordinary number for one night and very encouraging," he said.

The subway system went silent from 1 to 5 a.m. Wednesday as part of a plan for the normally round-the-clock system to shut down for train cleaning.

Police officers escorted people out of Brooklyn's Coney Island station, the end of the line for several trains, and told them they would have to board buses to get to their destinations. Cleaners carrying bottles of bleach then boarded the trains.

Fewer trains had been running in the overnight hours anyway, but the shutdown allows for daily cleanings and for city workers to move homeless people who have been more visible in subway cars during the coronavirus.

The New York Police Department has assigned more than 1,000 officers to secure many of the system's 472 stations, as fewer than 200 can be physically locked up.

Outreach teams made up of officers and nurses are being sent to 29 end-of-line stations to roust homeless people from trains that are headed out of service for cleaning, officials said.

De Blasio said the outreach workers engaged with 252 long-term homeless people on Wednesday and persuaded 139 of them to accept services and come inside.

Many of the people at the Coney Island station early Wednesday appeared to be homeless, though one man insisted he was not and asked officers how he was going to get to his home in the Bronx.

New York City normally has the country's busiest public transit system, with a weekday ridership of more than 5 million. But the impact of the coronavirus and people staying at home has been severe, with overall mass transit use dropping more than 90% in the past several weeks.

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