NEW YORK CITY – The number of cases of the new coronavirus in New York City passed 20,000 Wednesday as the mayor warned half of his 8 million constituents can expect to get it.
City figures showed 20,011 positive diagnoses have now been made. The actual number will undoubtedly be much higher as only people deemed high risk or who are seriously ill are being given the test.
The death rate has reached 280.
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"I've been honest with New Yorkers – probably before this is over, half of all New Yorkers, if not more, will contract this disease," Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday night.
"Thank God 80 percent of them will have a very mild experience."
The mayor also said that he expects the crisis to worsen– perhaps for several weeks – before any signs of improvement are seen.
"I told New Yorkers, honestly, I think April will be worse than March, and I fear that May actually will be worse than April," he said.
"I don't think this is just a few weeks. I don't think we're going to be okay by Easter. I think it's going to go substantially past that just by the numbers we're seeing alone."
De Blasio was referencing President Donald Trump's assertion that he hopes the nation's businesses will be reopening by Easter.
"The notion that everything might be fine by Easter, I don't know where on earth that idea comes from," de Blasio said at a press briefing earlier Wednesday.
"Certainly, does not apply to anything we're seeing here in New York City."
The mayor said a stay-at-home order issued Sunday had shown postive signs of working to slow the spread, though it was too early to be conclusive. But he said cops had seen people playing basketball at 80 courts throughout the city.
"After repeated attempts to make sure everyone there understood what social distancing was, they did not get the response they wanted," he said.
"And so, in those 80 locations, we're going to remove the basketball hoops and make it impossible, sadly, for people to play basketball there. That's what we have to do right now at those 80 locations."