Midway through a grim week, the virus continues to spread quickly.

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A naval hospital ship being dispatched to New York to help amid the coronavirus outbreak may not arrive for weeks.


Credit…Steve Helber/Associated Press

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Wednesday that President Trump had agreed to dispatch a 1,000-bed hospital ship to New York Harbor as the state struggles to deal with a stark jump in coronavirus cases.

The hospital ship, the U.S.N.S. Comfort, has previously been deployed to natural disaster zones, including to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“It has operating rooms,” Mr. Cuomo said. Drawing further on the U.S. military, Mr. Cuomo said he would meet with the Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday as he seeks to rapidly add hospital beds.


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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo discussed a floating hospital ship and other precautionary measures for New York.CreditCredit…Cindy Schultz for The New York Times

Although Mr. Cuomo said the president had said he would dispatch the 894-foot ship “immediately,” Jonathan Hoffman, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday that the vessel was undergoing repairs in Norfolk, Va., and that it would be weeks before it sailed for New York.

In statement issued later on Wednesday, the governor’s press office said that the ship was “expected to arrive in April.”

Mr. Cuomo provided new numbers on Wednesday that showed 2,382 people in the state had tested positive for the virus, an increase of more than 800 since Tuesday. In New York City, 1,339 people had tested positive, compared with 814 on Tuesday.

Mr. Cuomo attributed much of the jump to an increase in testing. Of the 14,597 people to be tested so far, nearly 5,000 were tested on Tuesday.

In New Jersey, officials said on Wednesday that another 162 people had tested positive for the virus, raising the state’s total of confirmed cases to 427. Officials also said there had been three more deaths linked to the virus, bringing New Jersey’s total to five.

In the past week, as testing has expanded and more people have gotten sick, the number of people to test positive for the virus in New York State has increased 42 percent a day on average.

“You are at a point of deciding: How many people are going to live, how many people are going to die?” Mr. Cuomo said.

Throughout the day, Mr. Cuomo emphasized that his priority remained halting the virus’s spread, not the economic fallout from the mandatory closings businesses and other restrictions imposed as a result of the outbreak.

“The crisis at hand is a public health crisis,” he said. “Once we get past that well deal with the economic crisis.”

Mr. Cuomo also issued a statewide order that no business have more than half its employees leave their homes to come to work.

“We’ll see if that reduces the spread,” he said. “If it doesn’t slow the spread, then we will reduce the numbers even further.”

The governor also said that Pennsylvania would join New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to formulate uniform rules meant to reduce the spread across the four states.

The hospitality industry’s problems continued on Wednesday, with the Union Square Hospitality Group, one of the nation’s leading restaurant companies, saying it was laying off 2,000 employees “due to a near-complete elimination of revenue.”

The company, founded by Danny Meyer, closed all of its New York City restaurants last Friday, including stalwarts like Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe.

The layoffs announced on Wednesday represented 80 percent of the company’s staff, at 18 restaurants in New York City, two in Washington and its corporate office in Manhattan.

Other dining powerhouses, like the Major Food Group and the Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurants, began to lay off workers last week, when employers were making difficult calculations about whether to close altogether or to remain open for takeout and delivery to keep at least some cash coming in.

Mayor Bill de Blasio continued on Wednesday to insist on the importance of a discussion about shelter-in-place-measures in the city, and said that he would have a conversation with the governor — who has strongly opposed the idea of such measures — later Wednesday.

Mr. Cuomo renewed his opposition to a shelter-in-place order on Wednesday.

By adopting such a policy, he said, “you close down your health care system, you close down your food system, you close down your transportation system.”

Most of New York City’s hotels have struggled since the pandemic stopped vacation and business travel.

Now, with very few guests and virtually no reservations for the next several weeks, several hotels in the city, including one of the biggest, are closing and sending workers home.

On Tuesday, Hilton Hotels said it would close the huge New York Hilton Midtown indefinitely starting Friday. It is one of more than a dozen hotels in the city that decided this week to close, either for a while or, more ominously, forever, industry officials said.

One of the last big events at the Hilton was a conference of emergency-room doctors that ended March 11.

Seven doctors who attended the conference, out of 1,300 people who were there, have since tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the medical association that organized the event.

Peter Ward, the president of the Hotel Trades Council, which represents about 40,000 hotel workers, said that more than 20,000 of the union’s members had been laid off. All 6,000 of the members of the union’s casino division were laid off when betting halls across the state closed over the weekend, he said.

“This is a very dark moment not just for the hotel industry,” Mr. Ward said. “It’s a dark moment for the retail industry, for the restaurant and bar business, for Broadway.”

Mr. Ward said he expected hotels to fail if restrictions on travel and commerce last more than a few weeks. “I think you will see bankruptcies,” he said. “I think you will see foreclosures.”

Union officials have been negotiating with hotel operators to pay laid-off workers for all the sick days, vacation days and holidays they could have taken this year. More than 100 hotels have also agreed to bring some workers back as cleaning crews to sanitize lobbies and other common spaces, said Richard Maroko, the union’s general counsel.

But Hilton’s decision to “temporarily suspend hotel operations” at its Midtown flagship, which occupies a full block on Sixth Avenue between 53rd and 54th streets, was a painful blow to hopes for a quick rebound.

A Hilton spokesman estimated that the hotel had more than 1,300 employees. He emphasized that the closing was “a temporary measure.”

New York State’s Department of Labor continues to have trouble keeping up with the flood of applications for unemployment benefits. On Tuesday, it added staff, expanded hours and instituted a new system limiting filings to certain days.

Those with last names starting with the letters A through F can file on Mondays. Tuesdays are for letters G through N, and Wednesdays for the rest of the alphabet. On Thursdays and Fridays, anyone can apply.

The changes were made new filers overwhelmed the system when restaurants, hotels and stores shut down and laid off workers en masse.

By noon Tuesday, the department had received more than 21,000 calls and 110,000 visits to its website, compared to 2,000 calls and 42,000 logins last Tuesday, it said.

“Our dedicated staff are working as hard as we can to ensure that all benefits are paid and we will continue to do so,” the department said in a statement.

As The New York Times follows the spread of the coronavirus across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, we need your help. We want to talk to doctors, nurses, lab technicians, respiratory therapists, emergency services workers, nursing home managers — anyone who can share what they are seeing in the region’s hospitals and other health care centers. Even if you haven’t seen anything yet, we want to connect now so we can stay in touch in the future.

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More than 200 people gathered for a wedding in Williamsburg on Tuesday, dancing in the street after the Fire Department broke up the party following complaints from neighbors. Gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned in New York State since Monday.

“Everything was exactly how it would have been if there hadn’t been any kind of a pandemic,” said one of the musicians at the wedding.

Several large weddings have been held in New York’s Hasidic community in recent days, community activists said, highlighting the challenges of persuading people to follow public-health restrictions.

Mordy Getz, a local businessman, called the gatherings “very painful” and said they did not represent the mainstream Hasidic community in New York. He blamed the influence of a small number of “extremist leaders.”

“There has been a total disrespect to everything medical authorities and the government have been telling us to do,” Mr. Getz said. “It is total defiance.”

The State Department of Correction confirmed on Wednesday that a correction officer at Sing Sing Correctional Facility and a civilian staff member in Albany had tested positive for the virus.

Officials said in a statement that they were tracing the staff member’s contacts to notify anyone who might have been exposed to the virus. A department spokesman declined to say whether the employee was a correction officer.

Additionally, a correction officer at a checkpoint leading to New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex tested positive for the coronavirus, a union official said on Wednesday.

The officer’s job involves checking the credentials of staff members entering the complex, said Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association.

As of Wednesday, prison officials said, no inmates had tested positive for the virus. Two other people who did not have symptoms were tested because they may have had contact with the infected employee, officials said.

Jonah Engel Bromwich, Alan Feuer, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Christina Goldbaum, Matthew Haag, Tim Herrera, Patrick McGeehan, Sarah Maslin Nir, Andy Newman, Jan Ransom and Liam Stack contributed reporting.

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