NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York saw 731 deaths reported in the past 24 hours, the worst day since the coronavirus outbreak began, bringing the state’s total up to 5,489 deaths so far.

The update came during Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s daily COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday looking back on the crisis that started in New York 37 days ago.

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“That’s 731 people who we lost,” said Cuomo. “Behind every one of those numbers is an individual, is a family, is a mother, is a father, is a sister, is a brother. So a lot of pain again today.”

New York now has 138,836 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, most in New York City and the highest total across the United States.

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Cuomo stressed the numbers reflect those cases showing most hospitalizations ending in the patients’ return home, but access to life-saving medical equipment remains a critical factor.

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“The longer you are on a ventilator, the less likely that you will ever come off that ventilator,” said Cuomo. “That’s why you’re seeing the number of deaths increase because these are people who came in at the peak. They were not successfully treated, they’re on a ventilator.”

On a positive note, Cuomo noted the number of hospitalizations is continuing to level out.

“Right now we’re projecting that we are reaching a plateau in the total number of hospitalizations, and you can see the growth and you see it starting to flatten,” he said.

Those projections figure based on New Yorkers continuing to practice tight social distancing.

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“What we do affects the number of cases our behavior affects the number of cases,” Cuomo said. “We’re generating the cases, they’re not descending on us from heaven, it’s our behavior.”