New York, Apr 2 (efe-epa).- The Covid-19 death toll in New York state, which accounts for more than a third of the 236,339 confirmed cases in the United States, climbed to 2,373 Thursday as Florida agreed to allow a pair of cruise ships carrying a dozen people infected with the coronavirus to dock.
The US has the largest share of the more than 1 million cases across the world, according to the independent tallies maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, which show that the novel coronavirus has claimed a total of 51,485 lives.
And though second-place Italy has fewer than half the number of cases (115,242), the Italian death toll (13,915) is the highest of any country.
Spain is third, with 110,238 cases and 10,096 deaths.
Worldwide, nearly 209,000 people infected with Covid-19 have recovered.
New York state, now the epicenter of a pandemic that began in China, saw the number of cases increase by 8,669 overnight to 92,381, while the death toll grew by 432 to 2,373, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.
New York City remains the hottest of the Covid-19 hot spots in the US with 4,370 new cases and 51,809 overall, he said during a briefing that included a video chat with his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, who is confined to his home with coronavirus.
The governor expressed concern that the state’s health care system might run out of the ventilators needed to treat the worst-afflicted coronavirus patients.
“The burn rate of ventilators is troubling, and six days of ventilators in the stockpile is troubling,” Andrew Cuomo said, while adding that the state was taking steps to get the most out of the available equipment.
Besides moving ventilators sitting idle at hospitals not overwhelmed by coronavirus cases to institutions that need them, authorities and health care workers are using anesthesia devices and BiPAP machines as ventilators, the governor said.
“I don’t want to say yet I’m confident, and it depends on how many we need, but I can say with confidence we have researched every possibility, every idea. Every measure you can possibly take to find ventilators, this state has done. That I can promise you,” he said.
A day after cautioning New Yorkers that the peak of the outbreak in the state may not come until the end of April, Cuomo sounded a more optimistic note on Thursday.
The “battle of the mountaintop” could be a week away, he said.
In Florida, where the number of cases passed 8,000 Thursday and deaths reached 128, the cruise ships Zaandam and Rotterdam docked in Port Everglades after days of negotiations among Carnival Cruise Lines, the US Coast Guard and local, state and federal officials.
Efe watched as first the Rotterdam, then the Zaandam, dropped anchor at the port in Ft. Lauderdale just hours after the “Unified Command,” comprising representatives of Port Everglades, the Coast Guard, Broward Sheriff’s Office, US Customs and Border Protection and the Florida Department of Health, signed off on the plan.
The Zaandam, operated by Carnival’s Holland America Line, sailed from Buenos Aires on March 7, a day before the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and State Department urged Americans to avoid cruise ships due to the increased risk of Covid-19.
The ship headed south and rounded Cape Horn, entering Pacific waters en route to its planned destination in Chile, where authorities denied the Zaandam permission to dock.
A succession of other Latin American nations likewise turned the Zaandam away as it made its way north.
By the time the ship reached the Pacific coast of Panama, four people aboard had died – at least two of them from coronavirus – and another 14 people tested positive.
Holland America dispatched the Rotterdam to pick up around 800 non-symptomatic passengers from the Zaandam and the two ships then proceeded through the Panama Canal to the Atlantic, bound for Port Everglades.