Coronavirus Update: Trump Considers Tri-State Quarantine, New York Death Toll Doubling Every Two Days

EMTs wheel a sick patient to a waiting ambulance in New York City, March 28, 2020. (Stefan Jeremiah/Reuters)

With a death toll over 700 and more than 52,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, New York is in a state of emergency. Not only is it the hardest-hit state, but the growth rate of both deaths and new cases has been close to exponential. While that is due in large part to increased testing, it is alarming in comparison with Washington, which has similarly high testing but much lower case numbers and a flattening growth rate in new cases.

On Saturday, President Trump considered imposing a quarantine on the tri-state area, restricting travel in and out of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Cuomo argues such a measure would not be “legally enforceable.”

The outbreak in New York has spilled into New Jersey, which now ranks second per capita cases. Elsewhere, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Michigan continue to see their case numbers skyrocket. The graph below excludes New York, which has become an outlier, to give you a sense of the situations in other states.

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Graph: Daniel Tenreiro
Data:, U.S. Census Bureau

The death toll in New York has surged, doubling roughly every two days. Louisiana and New Jersey are also seeing high numbers of dead, whereas Washington’s number of deaths has grown slowly in the past two weeks. It remains to be seen whether Governor Cuomo’s stringent social-distancing measures will succeed in containing the outbreak.

Graph: Daniel Tenreiro

On a more encouraging note, the U.S. continues to ramp up testing capacity. Indeed, the high number of new cases may be due to the fact that we now have the ability to catch more cases than we did before. On Thursday, 146,000 tests were administered in the U.S., almost double the previous day. That number fell slightly Friday, but it is clear that the mobilization of the private sector has been effective in developing the capacity to combat coronavirus. That bodes well for efforts to develop a “test-and-trace” strategy similar to the one utilized by South Korea.

Graph: Daniel Tenreiro

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