NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - New York's fatalities remained at a high plateau, with another 783 deaths reported on Saturday (April 11), although hospitalisations and admissions to intensive care continued to slow dramatically, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
New York's number of fatalities - now a total of 8,627 - pushed the United States past Italy for the world's highest number of deaths from Covid-19.
"The number is somewhat stabilising but it is stabilising at a horrific rate," Mr Cuomo told reporters in Albany. "These are just incredible numbers depicting incredible loss and pain."
New York hit the highest daily number of deaths on April 9 at 799. Saturday marks the fifth day of fatalities exceeding 700.
Still, the governor said this time period is the "end of the beginning phase" of the disease's spread. Only 85 new hospitalisations were reported on Saturday, the fewest since at least March 16.
Mr Cuomo also said there has not been a decision on whether to close New York City schools for the rest of the academic year, contradicting earlier comments by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"He didn't close them, and he can't open them," Mr Cuomo said. "That's the mayor's opinion. There has been no decision on the schools."
Earlier Saturday, Mr de Blasio said he had decided to keep schools closed through the academic year, a move he called "painful". The mayor and governor have frequently clashed, and Mr Cuomo said he wanted a decision on school closings to be coordinated "ideally" with neighbouring states Connecticut and New Jersey.
Local school districts have the power to close in an emergency, usually in storms. The governor can order schools closed or opened statewide. Practically, the only way Mr Cuomo could overrule the New York City Department of Education would be to order reopening all schools statewide.
Total Covid-19 cases in New York rose on Saturday by 9,946, to a total of 180,458.
Total deaths in New York City increased 398 overnight for a total of 5,463.
New Jersey, also hard hit by the epidemic, reported 3,599 new cases on Saturday for a total of 58,151.
With hospitalisation and intensive care rates continuing to slow, Mr Cuomo devoted much of his daily briefing to how the state would carefully begin to re-open. But he cautioned against moving too quickly, in a way that could set off a new wave of infections.
"You can't choose between lives lost and dollars gained," he said. "No one is going to make that quid pro quo."
The governor, who has reportedly considered running for president in the past, waved off speculation that could replace Mr Joe Biden, the former vice-president, as the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. Though his daily briefings on the virus have raised his national profile, Mr Cuomo and Mr Biden have a long friendship - and the governor called any speculation as both "flattering" and "irrelevant".
"I have no political agenda - period," he said. "I'm not running for president, not running for vice-president, I'm not running anywhere. I'm not going to Washington, I'm staying right here."