New York has more coronavirus cases than any other country and is responsible for about half of all US deaths. Why was it hit so hard and could its leaders have done anything else?
Was New York more vulnerable?
By Friday, the state of New York had nearly 160,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections, more than the most affected countries in Europe, Spain and Italy, and over 7,800 deaths.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly said that the density and number of foreign visitors, with nearly 93,000 confirmed cases, has made New York City an ideal breeding ground for infectious diseases.
America's finance capital has 8.6 million inhabitants. There are 10,000 people per square kilometer, which makes it the densest city in the United States.
Millions of commuters compete against each other in their crowded subway system every day, while it can be difficult to keep your distance on the sometimes narrow sidewalks.
NYC attracts over 60 million tourists annually and is the entry point to America for many travelers, meaning that anyone who carries the virus is likely to infect others first.
American geneticists estimate that it spread from Europe in February before New York's first case was confirmed on March 1.
The Big Apple is also characterized by massive socio-economic inequality.
Crowded, deprived areas – particularly in the Bronx and Queens, where many people already have health problems and lack medical care – have had the highest infection rates.
"New York City had all the prerequisites to support the idea that it would be hit hard," said Irwin Redlener, professor of public health and disaster preparedness expert at Columbia University.
Did the officials underestimate the risk?
On March 2, when the second state of the state in New Rochelle north of New York City was confirmed, Mr. Cuomo said the health care system was the best "on the planet".
"We don't even think it will be as bad as in other countries," he added.
After much hesitation, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the closure of public schools, bars and restaurants on March 16.
The governor ordered all non-essential businesses to be closed and the residents to stay home a week later, on March 22.
Experts hesitate to say that they have waited too long.
"The mayor and the governor were pushed and pulled by two opposing forces.
"One said we had to close schools and restaurants as soon as possible, the other said that if everything were closed early, there would be a lot of economic and social ramifications," said Redlener.
"Everyone received mixed messages, including from the federal government, from (President Donald) Trump," he added.
Have other states responded better?
California, America's most populous state, is often cited as a good example of the speed with which it responded to the outbreak. The confirmed cases on Friday were only 20,200 with 550 deaths.
On March 16, six districts in San Francisco Bay issued an order to stay at home, followed by the entire state three days later.
"One thing I think is important is that six neighboring districts have come together and issued the same (arrest) order for all six districts, early on," said Meghan McGinty, a staff member at the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.
"There was persistence, as opposed to NYC taking action and Westchester (county) another and Long Island another," she told AFP.
Six days passed between New York's school closure order and the order to restrict residents to their homes.
"In epidemic terms, six days are light years and can really improve the control and spread of the epidemic. I think you can say that New York may have waited too long in retrospect," said Ms. McGinty.
Is someone to blame?
When the crisis is over, the blame game can begin.
For weeks, Democrats Cuomo and de Blasio regretted the Trump administration's delay in conducting tests in countries that have so far failed to arrive in sufficient numbers.
The New York officials were also targeting the federal government for pulling its heels while implementing emergency powers to manufacture life-saving ventilators.
Neighboring New Jersey governor Phil Murphy, who was also badly hit, has called for a commission similar to that used to investigate the September 11, 2001 attacks.
"The warning signs were there … what happened? If you don't know the answer, how will you make sure it won't happen again?" Mr. Cuomo asked Friday.
Given the death toll and millions of unemployed, "we have a moral obligation to investigate this pandemic," concluded Ms. McGinty.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)