New York, April 13 (IANS) The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York City has surpassed the 100,000 mark with a total of 6,898 deaths, taking the overall number of infections and fatalities in the US to 557,571 and 22,108, respectively, according to data complied by the Johns Hopkins University.
With this, the US now accounts for the highest number of cases and deaths in the world, with the state of New York becoming the epicentre of the pandemic in the country, reports xinhua news agency citing the data by the Washington-based university's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE).
As of Sunday midnight, the state reported 190,288 COVID-19 cases with 9,385 fatalities.
Earlier in the day, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that five new testing centres would be opened in the hardest-hit communities to address previously-found disparities among different racial groups and between the rich and the poor.
“We cannot accept this inequality. We have to attack it with every tool we have,” said de Blasio.
The mayor doubled down on his plan to close all public schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year, one day after he announced the decision.
This is “the right thing to do for our parents, our kids, our teachers”, de Blasio said.
New York City has the nation's largest school district with some 1.1 million students. All public schools in the city have been closed since March 16 due to the pandemic.
De Blasio has promised that the city would complete deliveries of Internet-enabled digital devices for every student who needs them for remote learning.
However, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo was at odds with de Blasio over school closings, saying that it should be coordinated with the districts around the city and the state.
“It is my legal authority in this situation,” said Cuomo at his daily briefing on Sunday.
“We will not open schools one minute sooner than they should be opened, but we won't open schools one minute later than they should be opened either and it has to work in a coordinated plan with businesses,” Cuomo said.
“I do not know what we will be doing in June. Nobody knows what we will be doing in June. But I can tell you it will be a metropolitan-wide decision,” he added.
Meanwhile, Cuomo said the state's rates of hospitalization and intubation have shown signs of slowdown in the spread of the virus. “You're not seeing a great decline in the numbers but you are seeing a flattening,” he noted.
Cuomo also announced that he would issue an executive order directing employers to provide essential workers with cloth or surgical masks to wear when they are directly interacting with the public.