New York state recorded more than 500 coronavirus-related deaths in a single day, bringing its total to nearly 3,000, or about the same number killed in the United States in the September 11, 2001, attacks, Governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday.
New York City has mere days to prepare for the worst of the novel coronavirus onslaught, said Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose city has suffered more than a quarter of US deaths in the outbreak.
He pleaded for federal government help to end a shortage of medical staff and ventilators.
“I think somehow in Washington, there’s an assumption (that) there’s weeks to prepare,” de Blasio said on MSNBC. “There’s not weeks anymore. It is days now.”
The 24-hour death toll was 562, raising the New York state total to 2,935, Cuomo said.
He called it the “highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started”.
The September 11 attacks killed nearly 3,000 people, most of them at New York City’s World Trade Centre.
“It’s very painful. You see your friends and people you work with, they’re getting sick,” Thomas Riley, a nurse in New York City who recovered after testing positive for the coronavirus, told CNN yesterday.
Cuomo said on Thursday his state’s apex – or the worst point – of the crisis would likely be on the “shorter end” of a projected range of seven to 30 days ahead.
Most of the state’s coronavirus-related hospitalisations have been in the New York City area.
De Blasio is asking for 1,000 nurses, 150 doctors and 300 respiratory therapists as the number of Covid-19 cases in the city is expected to rise sharply next week.
The coronavirus causes the Covid-19 disease.
New York City has yet to receive a resupply for the up to 3,000 ventilators needed by next week, de Blasio said, urging President Donald Trump to mobilise medical personnel from the US military.
“They are not mobilised for action,” de Blasio told WNYC radio. “The president has to give that order right now.”
More than 25% of the 6,058 US coronavirus deaths tallied by Johns Hopkins University as of yesterday morning were in New York City.
Infections in the United States totalling 240,000 account for about 24% of the more than 1mn cases worldwide.
Many of the fatal victims were dying alone as medical staff forbade relatives to be with them in their final hours for fear of a further spread of infection.
“There’s really no way to describe what we’re seeing. Our new reality is unreal,” Craig Spencer, the director of global health in emergency medicine at New York’s Columbia University medical centre, wrote on Twitter on Thursday night.
He described 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.”
In neighbouring New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy ordered that all flags be lowered to half-staff for as long as the emergency remains in effect to honour those lost to the coronavirus.
He said New Jersey, which has more than 29,000 cases, was the first state to take such a measure.
New York City and state have both complained that federal resources have not reached them quickly enough, but Cuomo said Trump responded swiftly to a request he made on Thursday that a makeshift hospital at a Manhattan convention centre be allowed to take in patients with the Covid-19 disease.
Initially it was set up to treat all other patients.
“I thank the president for doing it. He did it despite the fact that the federal agencies were not eager to do it, and he did it quickly,” Cuomo said. “It’s a big deal for us.”
There are more than 102,863 coronavirus cases in New York state, up from 92,381 a day earlier, he said.
Anthony Fauci, a physician who is a leading member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, said social distancing is beginning to work even though the United States is still far from over the worst.
Even so, Fauci told Fox News, “it’s going to get worse – much worse – before it gets better ... but it will turn around”.
Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that Americans should cover their face in public but remain isolated as much as possible, adding that face masks must be reserved for medical personnel battling the highly-infectious disease.
“This is ... an addition to the physical separation, not as a substitute,” Fauci said.
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