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Federal, state officials warn New Yorkers leaving NYC to self-quarantine

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NEW YORK —Federal and state officials expressed growing alarm Tuesday about the coronavirus outbreak in New York City, warning that it could reach its peak much sooner than expected and advising people who have passed through or left the city that they should place themselves in a 14-day quarantine.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, indicated that the health authorities were now treating the New York City region as a coronavirus hot zone, akin to areas of China and Europe overwhelmed by the virus.

Birx said that about 60 percent of all the new cases in the United States were in the New York City metropolitan area, adding that a surge in cases on Long Island showed that people leaving the city were spreading the virus.

"Everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn't spread to others no matter where they have gone, whether it's Florida, North Carolina or out to far reaches of Long Island," she said.

Vice President Mike Pence made it clear that New York City was now the nation's coronavirus epicenter:

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"We have to deal with the New York metropolitan area as a high-risk area," he said, telling New Yorkers, "We are with you."

The White House warning came as Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered a grim forecast for the outbreak in New York, saying that it would flood the state's strained hospitals with as many as 140,000 stricken patients in the next few weeks.

Cuomo said that in New York City, new cases appeared to be doubling every three days. The crisis has already claimed the lives of more than 200 people statewide, and 131 in the city.

Despite the city's draconian efforts to slow the spread of the virus, Cuomo said the number of infections could reach its peak by mid-April, far outrunning earlier projections.

"We haven't flattened the curve and the curve is actually increasing," Cuomo said.

The governor's warnings came as millions of city residents sat hunkered in their homes and as all of its nonessential businesses were shuttered. One survey showed about a third of city residents had lost a job because of the epidemic or lived with someone who had.


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