ALBANY — New York topped 20,000 coronavirus deaths on Thursday, far exceeding any other state in the nation and rivaling the number of fatalities of some major countries across the globe.
New York's first deaths were reported March 14, and deaths spiked at 800 a day in early April.
The number of deaths, which hit 20,597 early Thursday, have been on the decline, averaging 260 per day over the past six days.
But New York continues to be the COVID-19 epicenter in the nation, even as new cases and hospitalizations slow. The number of new hospitalizations hit a low of 600 on Tuesday, down from a high of nearly 3,181 in early April.
New York has more than 323,000 confirmed cases and has tested more than 1 million of its 19.5 million people for the virus.
"There's no doubt that we're coming down the mountain," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his daily briefing Wednesday.
About 4,800 deaths occurred at nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
"Only question is what trail we take, what path we take, coming down the mountain, how fast does that decline continue? Does the decline continue? And that is purely a function of what we do."
The number of deaths might even be on the low end, Cuomo has warned, saying earlier this week to take the data "with a grain of salt."
The state's death toll doesn't include the probable COVID-19 cases in New York City, where the majority of the fatalities have occurred. The city listed about 5,300 probable cases on Thursday.
New York City and its suburbs have accounted for about 90% of all the deaths and cases in the state.
So the tally kept by John Hopkins University shows New York's death toll at 25,623.
That put New York's death total alone slightly behind France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, which has had about 30,000 deaths.
The number of U.S. deaths hit more than 73,000 on Thursday as spikes are being found in other parts apart the country.
"In New York, the number is coming down, and it's coming down dramatically," Cuomo said Thursday, as he noted cases on the rise elsewhere in the nation.