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NY coronavirus deaths: Most are men. Many have underlying health problems

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Virus Outbreak New York

A medical worker wearing personal protective equipment wheels a body to a refrigerated trailer serving as a makeshift morgue at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, Monday, April 6, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Health experts warned that seniors, people with chronic health conditions and those with compromised immune systems would be at risk of serious illness if they contract the coronavirus. 

As data released by the state Department of Health shows, they were right. 

The coronavirus death toll in New York is 5,489. According to the health department's COVID-19 tracker, 86.2% of the people who died had at least one chronic health condition. 

More than half of the deceased had high blood pressure and over 37% were diabetics. High cholesterol, coronary artery disease and renal disease were other common comorbidities. 

"Any time anyone who has underlying medical conditions ends up with this virus or any other virus, it puts them more at risk," state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said Tuesday. 

The coronavirus has killed more men than women in New York, with men comprising 61% of the victims. A vast majority of those who died — 82.4% — were age 60 and older. 

But young people haven't avoided the worst of the virus. There has been one death reported in the under 10 age group and four fatalities involving people ages 10 to 19. Twenty-seven people in their 20s and 107 in their 30s perished due to COVID-19. 

Geographically, downstate New York is the hardest-hit area. The five New York City boroughs and five downstate counties have reported the most deaths in the state. Brooklyn and Queens each have more than 1,000 deaths. In the Bronx and Manhattan, 816 and 750 people died after contracting COVID-19. 

On Long Island, 886 people — 620 in Nassau County and 266 in Suffolk County — have died. 

There are some areas of upstate New York reporting a growing number of deaths. The death toll in Erie County, upstate's largest county, is up to 36. There have been 26 deaths in Monroe County and nine in Albany County. 

Other data has been encouraging as state officials track the spread of the virus. The three-day hospitalization rate declined and there have been drops in daily intensive care unit admissions and intubations. 

As hospitalizations drop, the number of patients discharged is on the rise. For seven consecutive days, the number of daily discharges has been at least 1,000. 

However, the death toll concerns state officials. Gov. Andrew Cuomo explained that the lag between the hospitalizations and the deaths was due to the length of time a patient may spend on a ventilator. Patients who are on a ventilator could be hospitalized for an extended period. The longer they are on a ventilator, he said, the less likely it is they will recover. 

For a few days, it seemed the death rate slowed. But on Monday, 731 people died — the most in a single day since the outbreak began. 

At his briefing Monday, Cuomo called the virus a "deadly enemy." 

"It's very hard to see the number of deaths we're having," he said. "It's frightening, it's disturbing — that amount of loss. I'm the governor of New York. I see my job as preventing that kind of disturbance and negativity and the loss for the people of the state. We like to think that we can control everything. We can't. We like to think that we can fix everything and fix all the problems for people. We can't." 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.


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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at

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