The outbreak there has proven far more lethal than elsewhere in the US, with a per-capita death rate twice that of New York City. Doctors, public health officials and available data suggest the Big Easy's high levels of obesity and related ailments may be part of the problem.
In New York, the US state hardest hit by the coronavirus in sheer numbers of infections and lives lost, the cumulative number of fatalities rose above 2,900 - on par with the death toll from the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US.
"Personally, it's hard to go through this all day, and then it's hard to stay up all night watching those numbers come in," Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
New York City alone accounted for more than a quarter of the 7,077 US coronavirus deaths tallied by Johns Hopkins University on Friday. Known US infections, approaching 275,000 cases, made up about 25% of the more than 1-million cases reported worldwide.
'PAIN, LONELINESS AND DEATH'
Many of the most gravely ill patients were dying alone as medical staff forbade relatives to be with them in their final hours for fear of a further spread of infection.
Dr. Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at New York's Columbia University Medical Center, described the scene inside tents set up outside hospitals to help contain an increasing influx of patients.
"In those same tents, I saw too much pain, loneliness, and death. People dying alone," he wrote on Twitter on Thursday night.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy ordered all flags lowered to half-staff for as long as the emergency lasts, saying his state was the first to take such a measure.
Fresh data on Friday highlighted the economic consequences of the public health crisis, confirming that hundreds of thousands of Americans had lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Economists said actual job losses will prove far greater but had yet to be reflected in employment figures as much of the economy had only begun to shut down last month.