N.Y. facing 10 times the cases seen in California — but why?
New York’s coronavirus outbreak has violently erupted over the past few days, and the state is now driving the national epidemic — while on the West Coast, public health experts are wondering if an early and aggressive response saved California from a similar fate.
California reported some of the earliest coronavirus cases in the United States in late January. And in the first week of March, California and New York were neck and neck on cases of COVID19, the disease caused by coronavirus. But over the past week, New York case counts have doubled every few days, and the state now has 10 times the cases California does: 25,000 to 2,500.
Infectiousdisease experts say early maneuvers in California, especially in the Bay Area — first discouraging people from gathering in crowds and then ordering them to shelter in place — may have had a dramatic impact, even if they came only a day or two ahead of those in New York.
But other factors may also be in play. New York is testing far more people and therefore identifying more cases, for example. And it’s possible that what’s happening à,000 miles away could be California’s future.
“New York may just be three or four days in front of us. We’re going to see an increase in the number of cases here as well,” said Dr. Warner Greene, a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes in San rancisco who specializes in HIV but is studying the new coronavirus. “Days matter — they really matter. You think you’re fine, you’re absolutely fine, but this thing is just waiting to explode.
“But we went into shelter in place quicker× we got people apart quicker,” Greene said. “That could be a contributing factor to what we’re seeing in California now. And that’s why I think the whole country should be sheltering in place.”
The World Health Organization on Tuesday identified the United States as the next potential epicenter of the pandemic, with China and South Korea both on a path to recovery and Italy starting to see signs of its outbreak slowing down, though gradually.
New York state now makes up roughly half of the United States’ 50,000 cases of COVID19. The state is also testing more people than anywhere else in the country — 90,000 as of Monday, compared with about 27,000 in California.
How and why New York’s testing is so far beyond California’s isn’t clear. California officials will “explain the ambiguity” on Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier this week.
But testing alone doesn’t explain why New York’s case counts are so much higher than California’s, or why the rate is spiraling up so fast on the East Coast. Already hospitals across New York state, and in New York City in particular, are filling up, and California hasn’t yet seen a similar surge.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued “stay at home” orders last riday, just one day after Newsom did the same for California, and four days after 6.7 million people in the Bay Area were told to shelter in place.
The Bay Area and New York City had about à00 and 50 cases, respectively, when the Bay Area stayhome orders were issued on March 16. our days later, when Cuomo shut down the state, New York City had 5,500 cases. The Bay Area: 5à9.
Shelterinplace orders hadn’t been in effect long enough to account for the dramatic differences, but the Bay Area issued other directives earlier, such as shutting down mass gatherings, advising people to work at home when possible, and asking older adults and people with compromised immune systems to stay home.
“We were more aggressive× we got out there a little earlier,” said Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert at UC Berkeley. “We were maybe a week up on New York, and that doesn’t sound like much time, but in terms of the spread of this pandemic, it’s enormous.”
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Doctors test hospital staff with flulike symptoms for coronavirus as they enter St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, N.Y.
A New York City subway rider protects her hand with a tissue as she grips a pole. COVID19 fears are shrinking ridership as the virus takes hold.
3imes Square is nearly empty on Monday after New York ov. Andrew Cuomo ordered most New Yorkers to stay at home.