NEW York City has confirmed its first coronavirus death.
An 82-year-old woman who passed away Friday is the first reported COVID-19 death in the state, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on a conference call Saturday morning.
The woman, who was confirmed to have the virus as well as suffering from emphysema, had been in the hospital since March 3.
"I extend my condolences to her family during this challenging time," Cuomo said in a statement on Twitter.
The governor noted how pre-existing conditions and age make some people more vulnerable to serious illness from the virus.
“That's what we're going to see playing out now as a general rule,” Cuomo said.
"People contracting coronavirus who had an underlying respiratory condition are in a 'grave situation," he added.
New York's coronavirus case count also rose to 524, the governor said – a jump of 100 cases since Friday, NBC New York reported.
“It has already spread much more than you know,” Cuomo said.
"The infection rate will be massive.”
The governor said many more positive cases would be found as more testing is done.
“No one believes there are only 500 cases of coronavirus in New York State,” Cuomo said, as reported by WSYR-TV.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio thanked medical staff for their hard work amid the outbreak, and asked everyone in the city to do what they can to help curb virus spread.
"We all have a part to play here," de Blasio wrote.
"I ask every New Yorker to do their part and take the necessary precautionary measures to protect the people most at risk."
The announcement of the first coronavirus death in New York City followed just two days after NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed a state of emergency in the city, and the day after President Trump declared a national emergency in the U.S.
Public places – including Broadway and the Metropolitan Museum of Art – have begun to shutter their doors as part of a 500-person limit instilled in New York by Governor Cuomo earlier this week.
As many colleges around the state – including New York's SUNY and CUNY schools – have cancelled in-person classes and moved lessons online through the end of the semester, many have urged for de Blasio to do the same for NYC's public school system.
De Blasio has been hesitant to close schools, however, for fear of the impact it may have on working parents.
"We shut down the school system, we might not see it for the rest of the school year, we might not see the beginning of the new school year," de Blasio said at a press conference Friday, as reported by The New York Times.
"And that weighs heavily on me,” he added.
He noted that short-term closures of schools do little to impact the curve of outbreaks, according to experts.
De Blasio noted the impact that limits on the number of people that can gather in one place will have on people.
"We don’t make these decisions lightly," he said in a statement the day after declaring an emergency in NYC.
"The serious impact these actions will have on businesses and hardworking families will be painful. But they are absolutely necessary.
"We’ve seen in other parts of the world that measures to create more personal space make it harder for coronavirus to spread rapidly," the mayor added.
More than 2,100 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the U.S., with at least 49 deaths.
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