36 photos show how New York is getting through the world's biggest coronavirus outbreak

ncolarossi@businessinsider.com (Natalie Colarossi)
An Air Force member exits a tent builded as makeshift morgue outside of Bellevue Hospital on March 25, 2020 in New York City.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

  • New York has been hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak in the US, leaving the streets eerily empty and the hospitals and morgues overwhelmed.
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended the stay-at-home order until at least May 15, keeping all schools and nonessential businesses shuttered.
  • As the state grapples with overtaxed medical systems and a surge of new patients, authorities have rushed to build makeshift hospitals and ramp up precautionary efforts.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus outbreak in the US has hit New York the hardest, and the City that Never Sleeps is unrecognizable. By Friday, the state had reported more than 222,000 cases and at least 12,000 deaths.

To grapple with this surge, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended the state's stay-at-home order until at least May 15, ramped up testing efforts, built multiple makeshift hospitals, and ordered all New Yorkers to wear face masks in public.

These photos reveal what it looks like in New York as authorities scramble to contain the outbreak in one of the nation's most populous states.

New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, causing one of the most densely populated cities in the world to feel eerily empty.

A woman wearing a mask walks the Brooklyn Bridge in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on March 20, 2020 in New York City.

Victor J. Blue/Getty Images

But hospitals are a different story. They've become overwhelmed with the number of patients needing intensive care. Since the pandemic began, more than 32,000 people have been hospitalized in New York City.

An elderly person arrives on a stretcher, and is admitted to NYU Langone Health Center hospital on March 23, 2020 in New York City.

ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Sources: NYC Health, USA Today

In just 24 hours in late March, 13 patients died at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, prompting one medical worker to call the situation "apocalyptic."

Medical workers outside at Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York City on March 26, 2020

ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Source: The New York Times

One doctor in New York City told Business Insider Today: "It's really horrific and it's not going to get better anytime soon, especially if we start leaving our houses and not staying home."

Medical personnel move a deceased patient to a refrigerated truck serving as make shift morgues at Brooklyn Hospital Center on April 09, 2020 in New York City.

ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

To relieve hospitals, the Army Corps of Engineers have built makeshift hospitals around the city. They transformed the Jacob K. Javitz Convention Center in Manhattan into a 1,000-bed hospital that opened to patients on March 30.

A temporary hospital is set up at the Jacob K. Javits Center on March 27, 2020 in New York.

BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

The US Army Corps of Engineers also turned the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, the Aqueduct Racetrack facility in Queens, CUNY Staten Island, and the New York Expo Center in the Bronx into makeshift hospital sites.

Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.

Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

The evangelical Christian humanitarian aid organization Samaritan's Purse has reimagined parts of Central Park into a 68-bed emergency field hospital. The site has been treating patients from New York's Mount Sinai hospital system since April 1.

Workers set up a field hospital in front of Mount Sinai West Hospital inside Central Park on March 29, 2020.

Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

Source: Insider

On March 30, a US Navy hospital ship dubbed the USNS Comfort arrived in Manhattan equipped with 1,000 beds, 12 operating rooms, a laboratory, and more than 1,000 Navy officers to relieve overwhelmed hospitals in the city.

USNS Comfort in New York.

Mike Segar/Reuters

Source: Business Insider

 

The USNS Comfort wasn't going to be used for coronavirus patients, but began to, and has so far treated at least 130 people with COVID-19.

USNS Comfort in 2019.

Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images

Sources: WTKR, Business Insider, Business Insider

More than 76,000 healthcare workers — many of them already retired — have volunteered to work in New York hospitals as the situation becomes more strained.

Health care professionals take a break awaiting patients as they test for COVID-19 at the ProHEALTH testing site in Jericho, New York, March 24, 2020.

Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Source: Forbes

But healthcare workers are growing anxious as masks and other protective gear remain scarce. Some hospitals have transitioned into only treating coronavirus patients, and doctors have told Business Insider that the "new reality is unreal."

Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for COVID-19 at St. Barnabas hospital on March 20, 2020 in New York City.

Misha Friedman/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

A shortage of hospital beds and ventilators has forced some hospitals to ration out resources — and in the most extreme cases, form a plan as to what patients will get treatment over others.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a face shield as he speaks to the media during a visit to the Brooklyn Navy Yard where local industrial firms have begun manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

One doctor in New York City told Business Insider Today that deciding which patients to intubate or ventilate is "a matter of when, not if. We will have to make those decisions in New York very soon, and our goal is to put that day off as far as possible."

Medical workers take in patients at a special coronavirus intake area at Maimonides Medical Center on April 06, 2020 in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

On April 15, Cuomo ordered all New Yorkers to wear a mask or cover their face in public where social distancing cannot be maintained. This includes on public transportation, inside grocery stores, or walking on crowded sidewalks.

A man wearing a protective mask walks two dogs during the coronavirus pandemic on April 16, 2020 in New York City.

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

For information on how to construct your own mask at home, look here.

For the first time since 9/11, New York City set up makeshift morgues outside of hospitals using refrigerated trucks and tents, in preparation for mass coronavirus casualties.

Workers construct a makeshift morgue outside Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Sources: Business Insider, CNN

The state has ramped up testing efforts and opened up new drive-thru stations, making it the most aggressive testing state in the country. At least 28 public and private labs have been approved for testing by the FDA.

A cotton swab used in a nasal passage as health care professionals test for COVID-19 at the ProHEALTH testing site in Jericho, New York on March 24, 2020.

Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Sources: Business Insider, CNBC, The COVID Tracking Project, New York State

One funeral director told Business Insider correspondent Dave Mosher that "no one in the New York City area possibly has enough equipment to care for human remains of this magnitude." In late March, one person was dying from the coronavirus roughly every six minutes in New York City.

coronavirus covid 19 deceased dead international funeral service new york dave mosher business insider 000020

Dave Mosher/Business Insider

Sources: Business Insider, Gothamist

At the current pace, with thousands of new cases and hundreds of new deaths reported each day, the process of New York returning to normal is expected to take months at least.

A man is wheeled into an ambulance during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 27, 2020.

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Source: The New York Times

"This is an invisible beast. It is an insidious beast," Cuomo said. "This is a moment that is going to change this nation. This is a moment that forges character, forges people, changes people."

New York governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in the Manhattan borough of New York City

Reuters

Source: Business Insider

But there might be hope. The number of hospitalizations has been slowly declining over the past couple of weeks, suggesting that New York might have hit the apex of this wave of infections.

A man wears a face mask as he walks near Young Israel orthodox synagogue in New Rochelle, New York

Eduardo Munoz/REUTERS

Sources: Business Insider, The New York Times

Social distancing efforts have also showed promising results in New Rochelle, New York, the area that was previously hit hardest. The small city located in Westchester County, north of New York City, reported a significantly fewer number of cases following their lockdown efforts.

Empty streets, restaurants and cafes make up the business area in the one mile containment zone on March 11, 2020 in New Rochelle, New York.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Sources: The New York Times, Business Insider

And for the past couple of weeks, New Yorkers have been sending hope by applauding healthcare workers from their apartments and making encouraging signs.

Medical workers are seen outside NYU Langone Health hospital as people applaud to show their gratitude to medical staff and essential workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic on April 16, 2020 in New York City.

Noam Galai/Getty Images

Photos of New York City streets show people largely adhering to the social distancing guidelines. All nonessential businesses, public schools, and tourist attractions have been shuttered, leaving the streets unusually quiet.

Pedestrians passes an entrance to Stuyvesant High School closed due to coronavirus concerns, Monday, March 16, 2020, in New York.

Spencer Platt/Staff/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

Even Times Square, one of the country's most popular tourist attractions, has become largely abandoned.

A nearly empty Times Square is seen during the coronavirus lockdown on March 29, 2020.

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

Where the streets are typically littered with tourists, entertainment, and taxis, this aerial shot shows Times Square without a pedestrian in sight.

A view of empty streets in New York City.

REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

A famous Times Square personality, "The Naked Cowboy" stood amid the empty streets, and wore a mask as he waited for tourists in March. But stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions have kept foot traffic low.

New York personality The Naked Cowboy greets tourists as Times Square is mostly empty in the wake of the Coronavirus, COVID19, outbreak on March 18, 2020

Victor J. Blue/Getty Images

On March 28, the CDC issued a domestic travel notice for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, urging Americans to avoid "nonessential travel" from the region, leaving New York airports largely empty.

People walk through a sparse international departure terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) as concern over the coronavirus grows.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Sources: Business Insider, CDC

New York City playgrounds, including this one in the vast and sprawling Central Park, have been shut down. Cuomo has closed all playgrounds and basketball courts to maintain social distancing, but parks remain open for exercise.

A nearly empty playground in Central Park as New York City attempts to slow down the spread of coronavirus through social distancing on March 30, 2020

John Lamparski/Getty Images

Source: New York Times

But people have found creative ways to get some fresh air. Some lucky New Yorkers with roof access have used the spaces to work from home.

A teacher from Yung Wing School P.S. 124 remote teaches on her laptop from her roof on March 24, 2020 in New York City

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

The New York City subway system is still running for essential workers and necessary travel, but many stations have been left looking abandoned.

Empty NYC Coronavirus

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Source: Business Insider

This mall and transit exit in lower Manhattan is typically bustling with people.

A person exits the subway at an empty Brookfield Place mall in lower Manhattan on March 29, 2020 in New York City.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Daily subway commutes are down 93% since February, dropping from about 4 million people to just 400,000.

mask respirator coronavirus new york city subway

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

Cuomo extended the stay-at-home order for all nonessential workers and schools throughout the state until at least May 15, leaving many bars and restaurants shuttered.

A worker sweeps the floor after closing time at McSorley's Old Ale House, which, established in 1854, is referred to as New York City's oldest Irish saloon and was ordered to close at 8:00pm as part of a city-wide order to close bars and

REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Source: The New York Times

But restaurants are still allowed to offer takeout and delivery.

A delivery person rides a bike down the middle of 7th Avenue in mostly deserted Times Square during the coronavirus outbreak in Manhattan on March 23, 2020.

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Throughout the outbreak, New Yorkers have stockpiled food and supplies, leaving some supermarkets swept clean.

Empty store shelves are seen in a supermarket as people has been stocking up for food and other essential items fearing the supply shortages.

John Lamparski / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

By Friday, the US had reported nearly 700,000 cases and at least 36,000 deaths. Public health experts think New York may have hit the peak of the first wave, and hope the US isn't far behind, but expect more waves of outbreaks until we have a vaccine or treatment to truly get the coronavirus under control.

A patient with a face mask is being carried to an ambulance at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, United States on March 25, 2020.

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sources: Johns Hopkins, Business Insider

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