Some Fleeing N.Y.C. May Have Brought Virus: Live Updates

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ImageBusinesses in the Hamptons are trying to keep up with a sudden influx of visitors.
Credit…Johnny Milano for The New York Times

Some New Yorkers fleeing the city brought the virus along.

In the quaint seaside resort of Cape May at New Jersey’s southern tip, a 30-year-old man from New York City was the county’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus.

In Greene County, N.Y., home to the Catskill Mountains, the first four confirmed virus cases were all people from New York City.

As the coronavirus exploded in New York City, leaders and residents of areas that are seasonal refuges and second homes for city dwellers called for outsiders to stay away. fearing that an influx of people could strain resources, from supermarkets to parks, and overwhelm small hospitals.

“If I was in New York City and I had a place up here, I’d be here,” said Shaun Groden, the Greene County administrator. “But I’m not going to come here with some false sense of security that once you get upstate, you’ll be taken care of. It’s just the opposite.”

Throughout the region, the virus seems to be mostly following a logical pattern of infection, growing outward from its epicenter of New York City.

But there have also been bursts of flu-like symptoms in areas where New Yorkers have summer homes, like the Adirondacks, the Jersey Shore, the Catskills and the Hamptons.

And preliminary data and anecdotal evidence suggest that fleeing New Yorkers may have hastened the virus’s spread.

Official death count overlooks those who die outside the hospital.

Fire Department data shows that 1,125 patients were pronounced dead in their homes or on the street in the first five days of April, more than eight times the 131 deaths recorded during the same period last year.

Paramedics are not testing those they pronounce dead for the virus, so it is almost impossible to say how many of the people were infected with it. Some may have been tested before they died and either were not admitted to hospitals or were discharged.

But the huge jump in the numbers suggests that the virus was involved in many of the recent deaths.

“The driver of this huge uptick in deaths at home is Covid-19,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday. “And some people are dying directly of it, and some people are dying indirectly of it, but it is the tragic ‘X’ factor here.”

Nearly 120 morgue workers and soldiers are working around the clock to retrieve the bodies of up to 280 people a day who are dying at home in New York City, many of them probably having succumbed to the coronavirus without being counted in the official death toll.

The chief medical examiner’s office is overseeing the grisly task, with the help of more than 100 soldiers from the U.S. Army, the National Guard and the Air National Guard, officials said. Many of those involved in the operation have special training in processing human remains.

Fifteen four-person teams are working during each 12-hour shift, driving mostly rented vans, said Aja Worthy-Davis, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office.

Are you a health care worker in the New York area? Tell us what you’re seeing.

As The New York Times follows the spread of the coronavirus across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, we need your help. We want to talk to doctors, nurses, lab technicians, respiratory therapists, emergency services workers, nursing home managers — anyone who can share what they are seeing in the region’s hospitals and other health care centers. Even if you haven’t seen anything yet, we want to connect now so we can stay in touch in the future.

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Reporting was contributed by Matthew Haag, Andy Newman, Sarah Maslin Nir, William K. Rashbaum and Tracey Tully

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