COVID-19: New York’s frontline families to get death benefits

A healthcare worker wheels the body of a deceased person to a refrigerated truck at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in New York City in this April 6 file photo. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that families of frontline workers who've died fighting the COVID-19 pandemic will receive death benefits. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

May 31 (UPI) — New York Gov. Cuomo said Saturday he signed a bill giving death benefits to families of frontline workers who died while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is the least we can do to say thank you, and we honor you, and we remember you. You gave your lives for us. We will be there to support your families going forward,” Cuomo told reporters Saturday.

Cuomo said the number of hospitalizations and intubations associated with coronavirus, and the number of deaths Friday — 67 — was the same as the day before.

New York is the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, with more than 370,000 confirmed cases and nearly 30,000 deaths, according to The New York Times. Across the country, there have been more than 1.7 million cases and some 103,000 deaths.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also cautioned Saturday that large gatherings are “inherently dangerous” and urged New Yorkers to avoid large public demonstrations — like those that have erupted in New York, Minneapolis and other cities this week in response to the death of George Floyd. De Blasio urged people to take precautions if they decide to join demonstrations.

“I would still wish that everyone would realize that when people gather it’s inherently dangerous in the context of this pandemic and I’m going to keep urging people not to use that approach and if they do they focus on social distancing and wearing face coverings,” he said.

Also on Saturday, President Donald Trump was criticized by both domestic and international leaders for his Friday announcement that the United States is cutting ties with the World Health Organization.

“Global cooperation and solidarity through multilateral efforts are the only effective and viable avenues to win this battle the world is facing,” said a joint statement by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and top European Union diplomat Josep Borrell, released by the EU Saturday.

Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also criticized the move, with Alexander saying “there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it.”

Warren tweeted that the decision “alienates our allies, undermines our global leadership, and threatens the health of the American people.”

The official U.S. coronavirus death toll passed 100,000 this week, but an analysis performed by the Yale School of Public Health for the Washington Post and published Saturday suggests the United States may have passed that milestone three weeks ago.

The analysis, which employs a standard tool used by epidemiologists to determine the true toll of epidemics, compared the number of total deaths so far in 2020 to the number recorded last year during the same time period.

It found 26,000 excess deaths not attributed to COVID-19 on death certificates.

Many of those may have been individuals who never received a COVID-19 diagnosis, but others may have been reluctant to seek help for other illnesses due to concerns about visiting emergency rooms or doctors’ offices.


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