New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that 779 people in the state have died in a single day, marking another solemn milestone as the state fights to slow down the devastation of COVID-19.

This is the second day in a row that the death toll has reached a new high.

Cuomo ordered the flags in the state to be flown at half-mast to honor the 6,298 New Yorkers who have died so far and said he expected the death toll to stay high for several days. 

He also acknowledged that there are patients who died at home but were not counted in the official death toll, although he said he is not sure those numbers are statistically meaningful. 

"Today is a day in the state of New York with very mixed emotions," he said at his daily briefing. 

The  "good news" he shared is that there is evidence that the extreme attempts to slow the spread of the coronavirus have been effective. "We took dramatic actions in this state," and "it's working." 

"If the hospitalization rate keeps decreasing the way it is now, then the system should stabilize these next couple of weeks, which will minimize the need for overflow that we have built into the system," he said, but cautioned "we are by no means out of the woods."

"If we stop what we are doing, you will see the curve change," he said. "That curve is purely a function of what we do day in and day out."

Touching on the New York City data released yesterday showing COVID-19 is disproportionately killing black and Hispanic people, Cuomo said, "It always seems the poorest people pay the highest price." 

He said the disparity could be, in part, due to underlying chronic illnesses but also said those groups may disproportionately represent essential workers, noting that many essential workers do not have a choice "but to go out there every day and drive the bus, and drive the train, and show up for work, and wind up subjecting themselves to, in this case, the virus — whereas many other people who had the option just absented themselves."

When asked if New York was late to act, compared to regions like the San Francisco Bay Area, which has seen lower fatality rates than New York state, Cuomo said "No, no. I think New York was early and I think the actions we took were more dramatic than most and, frankly, were criticized as being premature." 

Cuomo also said all voters will be able to vote with absentee ballots in the New York primary scheduled for June 23, saying voting at polls is "totally nonsensical." He also announced the state will make an additional $600 payment to people who filed for unemployment. He said he expected that money to be reimbursed by the federal government.

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