Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday that 38 New York City children have been inflicted with a serious new inflammatory syndrome that city health officials say appears to be linked to an immune response to Covid-19.
That is more than double the 15 cases the city health department warned of in an alert to city health providers on Monday. One child has died of the ailment.
The illness, known as pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, introduces a troubling new aspect to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has largely spared children from serious disease. Statewide, three children have died of the inflammatory condition, and 73 have been sickened, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
The syndrome was first brought to the attention of New Yorkers in the past week, but Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city’s health commissioner, said that the health department had alerted health providers to the syndrome on May 1, after hearing reports of the condition from the United Kingdom.
The inflammatory syndrome, health officials say, resembles toxic shock or Kawasaki disease. Children with the virus-related condition may have prolonged high fevers, rash, severe abdominal pain, racing hearts and a change in skin color, such as redness of the tongue.
“This is still evolving,” Dr. Barbot said at the Mayor’s Sunday briefing, adding the numbers could rise as health officials define what exactly the illness is. She called for the federal government to assist with increased virus testing citywide to help identify children at risk.
A handful of cases have been reported in other states, including Louisiana, Mississippi and California. At least 50 cases have been reported in European countries, including Britain, France, Switzerland, Spain and Italy.
Among the other developments from Mr. de Blasio’s briefing on Sunday:
At least 260 city employees have died from complications of the coronavirus, Mr. de Blasio said. The city will now extend by 45 days health insurance coverage for those families, but the mayor also emphasized that federal help would be necessary to extend further benefits to all essential workers.
The city will increase the number of city employees acting as “social distancing ambassadors” to 2,300, up from 1,000. The move comes after criticism that city police were unfairly enforcing such rules. According to recent figures from the NYPD, 35 of the 40 people arrested for violating social distancing rules are black.
Mr. de Blasio said recent indicators showing the city’s attempt to curtail the spread of the coronavirus were a “mixed bag.” As of May 8, the number of new coronavirus patients hospitalized held steady at 69, the same as the prior day. The number of patients in ICU treatment was 540, down slightly from 559 the day before.
Mr. de Blasio also dismissed concerns that enforcing social-distancing rules was infringing on the freedom of speech of protesters, some of whom have gathered in recent days to criticize a variety of issues. Mr. de Blasio called such gatherings “idiotic” and said they were “literally out of step with the times we’re living in to believe that the only way to get something done is to gather in the middle of the pandemic.”
New cases and deaths continue to drop in New Jersey.
The number of new coronavirus cases and the number of people hospitalized with the illness in New Jersey continued to drop, Gov. Philip D. Murphy said Saturday.
Mr. Murphy reported 1,759 new cases, a drop of more than 200 from the day before; that brought the total number of cases in the state to 137,085, as of Friday night, he said. He also announced 166 new deaths in the state.
“Our battle here is not a battle to just bring down numbers,” Mr. Murphy said. “It’s a battle to save lives.”
The picture remained bleak at nursing homes. There have been more than 26,000 cases and 4,825 deaths, Mr. Murphy reported on Saturday, accounting for more than half of the total number of deaths in the state.
Nearly 190,000 people were tested for the coronavirus in New York City over the past two weeks. Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced plans to hire 1,000 disease detectives to track down the contacts of every infected New Yorker.
The city is also paying for hotels to house people who cannot quarantine in their cramped apartments, and it may use the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens for the same purpose.
And Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has established a framework for reopening New York State, based on seven concrete, health-related milestones, soliciting advice from dozens of advisers from the upper echelons of New York’s business world.
Still, despite all the plans and initiatives, the reopening of New York City remains a long way off.
The factors that made the city the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic — its density, tourism and dependence on mass transit — complicate a return to normalcy. The city, which has had more than 19,000 virus deaths so far, is still far from meeting the public health metrics necessary to reopen, from available critical-care beds to new hospital admissions for the virus.
And New York State is moving cautiously, anticipating a partial reopening later this month, mostly in rural areas.
So how long might it take to restart New York City’s economy?
“Nobody can tell you,” Mr. Cuomo said last week.
The key to reopening is containing the virus, and that will take a vast infrastructure of testing and contact tracing unlike anything the United States has ever seen, public health experts say.
Even when the new public health apparatus is fully staffed and running, it will merely lay a foundation for businesses and residents to feel safe returning to work and play. Many may choose to stay home.
A true reopening of the city, Mr. de Blasio said this month, remained “a few months away at minimum.”
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Reporting was contributed by Maria Cramer, J. David Goodman, Sharon Otterman, Azi Paybarah, and Michael Rothfeld.