Today’s coronavirus update: NY cases top countries, New Zealand death toll is 1

New York is now the coronavirus capital of the world.

The Empire State on Thursday recorded a total of 159,937 COVID-19 cases — surpassing every country worldwide.

But the number of newly hospitalized patients dipped to its lowest level since the state shut down last month, in a sign that mitigation measures are working, officials said.

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Here’s what else we learned today: 

New York crisis:

  • New York City will begin burying victims of the virus on Hart Island potter’s field.
  • The news came as Mayor Bill de Blasio said the Big Apple was at least another month away from loosening stay-in-place restrictions.
  • Meet our hero of the day: A Brooklyn waitress feeding New Yorkers — even after she lost her job at a diner amid restaurant lockdowns.

Check’s in the mail:

  • Millions of Americans should receive their $1,200 relief payments beginning today, as the first wave of payouts for citizens impacted by crisis begins.
  • A lot of folks will need that cash. Nearly 17 million have been put out of work in just three weeks.

Staying power:

  • The handshake could become a thing of the past in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Researchers in Finland released a chilling simulation that shows how droplets from a single cough in a supermarket can hang in the air for “several minutes” and travel across two aisles — possibly infecting nearby shoppers with the virus.

World pandemic:

  • Coronavirus-stricken British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was released from intensive care after two nights, but remains hospitalized in London.
  • Only one death from the disease has been reported in New Zealand amid the country’s stringent lockdown.
  • Up to 150 members of the Saudi Arabian royal family have been infected with the illness — striking fear into the hearts of the authoritarian kingdom’s powerful rulers.

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