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New York saw its first two coronavirus-related deaths Saturday – an 82-year-old woman in New York City who contracted the illness while dealing with an underlying respiratory illness and a 65-year-old Rockland County resident who had “other significant health problems,” government officials announced.
The New York City woman was hospitalized in Brooklyn on March 3 after contracting the novel coronavirus “on top of the emphysema,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday during a teleconference. The case marked the first death of a person in New York State “who had the coronavirus with the underlying symptoms,” he said.
Fewer details were immediately released about the death of the Rockland County individual.
“That’s what we’re going to see playing out now as a general rule,” he said. People contracting coronavirus who had an underlying respiratory condition are in a “grave situation,” he said.
Cuomo said he believes thousands of New Yorkers — perhaps tens of thousands — already have the disease.
“It has already spread much more than you know,” the governor said. “The infection rate will be massive.”
More than 500 New Yorkers have been diagnosed so far with COVID-19, the new illness that has killed thousands of people across the globe. The true number of people with the virus in the state is unknown because testing is still being done across the U.S. on a very limited basis.
The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.