New York tested 10,000 for coronavirus Thursday, leads nation in infections

People wait in their cars for being tested at a new drive-thru coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing center at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey
People wait in their cars for being tested at a new drive-thru coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing center at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey, U.S., March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

New York state now has more than five times as many coronavirus cases than any other state in the Union, according to figures Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday morning.

But that news, he insisted, is not as grim as it sounds.

Rather, Cuomo charged, it’s the result of a dramatic increase in coronavirus testing across the Empire State over the past weeks. Thursday proved to be a milestone for such actions, as approximately 10,072 New Yorkers underwent coronavirus testing.

No other state appeared to be testing at the level of New York, Cuomo said, adding that New York is now outpacing China and South Korea in conducting COVID-19 tests.

“We have the testing so high in New York right now that we’re testing more per capita than China or South Korea, and China and South Korea had a much longer time to ramp up,” he said. “We have done a great job at ramping up the number of tests. But when you ramp up the number of tests, we’re going to get more positives.”

Expanded testing, combined with other measures such as social distancing, was critical in South Korea’s efforts to flatten the coronavirus curve. According to Science magazine, the nation of 60 million people had a peak of 909 new cases reported on Feb. 29 — but by March 17, the daily new case total had dropped to 74. More than 270,000 South Koreans have been tested since the virus crisis began.

The battle against the illness, however, is far from over in South Korea. Science magazine reported that new clusters of coronavirus cases have popped up around Seoul, the nation’s capital and largest city.

As of Friday morning, March 20, New York state had 7,102 positive coronavirus cases, including 4,408 in New York City. Since March 1, 32,427 New Yorkers have been tested, according to Cuomo. 

So far, 35 people statewide have died from complications of the illness; the mortality rate is less than 1% based on these figures.

Washington state has the second-highest coronavirus cases in the U.S., with 1,376 cases and 75 deaths. The first coronavirus cases in the U.S. were detected there back in January.

Governor Andrew Cuomo speaking at a March 20, 2020 press conference, with a list of coronavirus cases across the U.S. posted at right.

Of the 7,102 positive cases in New York state, 18% of them (1,255) have required hospitalization. That number further underscores the need for the state to secure additional medical supplies, ventilators and hospital space.

Overnight, New York state detected 2,950 new cases, with 1,939 of them found in the five boroughs. 

Worldwide, as of 12:25 p.m. on March 20, there were 254,653 coronavirus infections, with 10,415 deaths — a mortality rate of 4%, according to Johns Hopkins University. But there were also 87,351 recovered patients, with another 156,887 individuals still battling the illness.