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13 Deaths in a Day: An ‘Apocalyptic’ Coronavirus Surge at an N.Y.C. Hospital

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Medical workers said they saw the first signs of the virus in early March — an increase in patients coming in with flulike symptoms before the alarm had been fully raised in the city and the country. Tests results were taking longer then, but they eventually confirmed that many of these patients had coronavirus.

In the weeks after, the emergency room began filling up, with more than 200 people at times. Every chair in the waiting room was usually taken. Patients came in faster than the hospital could add beds; earlier this week, 60 coronavirus patients had been admitted but were still in the emergency room. One man waited almost 60 hours for a bed last week, a doctor said.

The patients coming in now are sicker than before because they were advised to try to recover at home, doctors said.

Like other hospitals, Elmhurst has come perilously close to running out of ventilators several times; other facilities have replenished its supply.

Mr. Cuomo said that on Sunday, projections showed hospitalizations doubling every two days, while Tuesday’s estimates showed them doubling every 4.7 days. “That is almost too good to be true,” the governor said, “but the theory is, given the density that we’re dealing with, it spreads very quickly. But if you reduce the density, you can reduce the spread very quickly.”

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But the crowds outside of Elmhurst have not thinned out.

The line of people waiting outside of Elmhurst to be tested for the coronavirus forms as early as 6 a.m., and some stay there until 5 p.m. Many are told to go home without being tested.

Julio Jimenez, 35, spent six hours in the emergency room on Sunday night after running a fever while at work in a New Jersey warehouse. He returned on Monday morning to stand in the testing line in the pouring rain. On Tuesday, still coughing, eyes puffy, he stood in line for nearly seven hours and again went home untested.



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