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Why New York is the epicenter of the American coronavirus outbreak



Health experts said the answers are largely specific to the New York metropolitan area – especially its density and population – but they are also a warning to other states who believe they can be spared.

New York is the epicenter for now, but Covid-19 won’t stop there.

“The idea that the book is written about how it will affect the whole country is dangerous,” said Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. “We’re seeing New Orleans soaring now, Detroit. Over the next few weeks, many cities will have New York history.”

High density and size

The first and most obvious explanation for the severity of the outbreak in the region is that New York is the largest and most populous city in the United States, and the corona virus tends to spread to dense locations.

“This proximity makes us vulnerable,”

; said Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, on Wednesday.

According to the 2010 census, New York City had an average of just over 27,000 residents per mile. That is more than twice the density of Chicago and Philadelphia and more than three times the density of Los Angeles.

At any time of the day, New Yorkers pack up on the subway, bump into each other on sidewalks, and brush their knees in bars and restaurants – all while being contagious. They live in crowded apartment buildings, squeeze stairs or climb lifts with neighbors. The transit system connects people in all five districts so that most people don’t have cars that could otherwise separate people.

“We’re used to crowds,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are used to lines. We are used to being close to each other.”

With over 8 million inhabitants, New York City is also the largest city in the country. The high number of coronavirus cases in New York only reflects its size. The state is likely to lead the country in coronavirus cases, even if its infection rate per person is not the highest, said Sepkowitz.

High test rates

A close-up of a swab used by medical professionals will typically perform the coronavirus test on March 21, 2020 at ProHealth Care's Drive-In Center in Jericho, New York.

Another reason New York has so many confirmed coronavirus cases is that it looks for them.

The United States has lagged behind other countries in investigating suspected cases, and people across the country have told CNN that they could not be tested.
However, New York has been working hard to speed up testing in hospitals, laboratories, and transit centers that have been specifically set up in the densest areas. With FDA approval, the State of New York approved 28 public and private laboratories to be the first state to begin testing for coronavirus on March 13.

According to Cuomo, over 100,000 people have been tested for coronavirus in New York. He said Thursday that about 25% of all tests were done across the country from New York.

“We hunt positives,” said Cuomo. “We hunt positives so we can isolate them and reduce spread.”

Widespread testing has made the numbers look bad, but health officials say it’s important to slow the spread of the virus. The more you test, the more you can isolate the people who have the virus and thereby stop the spread.

According to Dr. Arthur Caplan, a CNN medical analyst and head of the Department of Medical Ethics at the School of Medicine at NYU, said testing is only part of the explanation for the high overall scores.

“I think it is true that we have a worse outbreak here if we are only admitted to intensive care units while they are starting to build. It is not just about testing,” he said.

Slow early response

Cuomo has received rave reviews for its daily press conferences during the crisis. But both he and de Blasio aggressively closed schools, events and social gatherings in the early days of the outbreak.
“Social distance will not stop the transmission, but it will slow it down and make it easier to treat people,” said Caplan. “The old ‘smooth the curve.’ I think they were too slow. I think the whole country was too slow. “
The state of New York had its first case of community expansion in New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City, on March 2, which means its origins were not known. By March 11, there were 216 confirmed cases in the state, and that number rose to 613 by March 14.
New York Governor Cuomo says social distancing efforts are slowing the corona virus
Cuomo and de Blasio restricted gatherings of over 500 people on March 12, but opposed too much the disturbance of life.

“We will be issuing guidelines very quickly on how to reduce the volume and audience while we are still doing some activity,” said de Blasio at the time.

As the coronavirus cases continued to grow exponentially, this activity became unsustainable. New York ordered all schools to close until March 18, when there were 2,300 cases. Cuomo did not order essential workers to stay home as of March 22, when there were over 15,000 cases.
In contrast, California also had an early outbreak, but took more aggressive measures to restrict social life. On March 16, leaders set up emergency shelters across San Francisco Bay to keep people in their homes when there were 500 cases nationwide. Governor Gavin Newsom issued a nationwide order to stay at home on March 19 when the state had 900 positive cases.

As the virus spreads exponentially, a delay of just a few days can lead to significant differences.

“It is important to isolate and distance early because the virus is more difficult to jump from person to person,” said Caplan. “If it spreads more slowly, you’ll have enough beds in the hospitals and intensive care units and ventilators to treat the sick.”

holiday destination

A policeman walks through an empty 7th avenue in a sparsely populated Times Square in New York on Friday, March 20, 2020, due to Covid-19 concerns.
The big apple! The city that never sleeps! Concrete jungle that dreams are made of!
New York City is a world-famous tourist destination and the most visited travel destination in the USA. As such, Cuomo said that infectious people from countries where coronaviruses had previously broken out traveled to the city and spread the virus.

“We have international travelers who have been to China and Italy and Korea and came here,” said Cuomo on Wednesday. “And I have no doubt that the virus was here much earlier than we even know it. And I have no doubt that the virus was here much earlier than in any other country. Because these people come here first.”

President Donald Trump has introduced a number of travel restrictions to stop this spread. On February 2, the United States introduced strict travel restrictions for those who were recently in China. And on March 11, Trump said he had stopped traveling from two dozen European countries, including Italy.

Still, these steps were too late to prevent the virus from reaching New York due to its heavy journey, Caplan said.

New York’s difficult journey “somehow brought the virus here earlier,” he said. “It started faster here.”

First but not least

For all these reasons, New York City has always had to be a center of rapidly spreading cases. But it is far from the last one.

“We’re only early. We’ll see waves elsewhere,” said Caplan.

“It’s like a stone that is thrown into a pond and curled up,” he added. “Because of the population density, it’s in cities, then in suburbs, and then in rural areas.”

Cuomo has warned that New York is the country’s “canary in the coal mine”.

“It is higher in New York because it started here, because we have global travelers who come here first because we are denser than most other places, but you will see this in cities across the country. And you will in suburban areas across the country, “he said. “We are just a test case.”


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