US becomes centre of coronavirus pandemic: What is Donald Trump planning?
Amid desperate need for medical equipment, New York state has approved technology that allows two patients to share a ventilator. "This is going to be the disaster that defines our generation," according to Collin Arnold, director of New Orleans' Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
The United States now has highest confirmed cases -- 85,500 -- of coronavirus in the world, overtaking China, where the virus emerged. The latest figures come as the country reported a record surge in unemployment. Leaders of G20 have pledged to inject $5 trillion into the global economy to limit job and income losses from the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the latest figures collated by Johns Hopkins University, the US has overtaken China (81,782 cases) and Italy (80,589). The death toll in America is nearing 1,300, lagging behind China’s 3,291 deaths and Italy’s 8,215.
The latest figures come as President Donald Trump predicted that the US would get back to work “pretty quickly”. He attributed the spike in the confirmed cases of coronavirus to the large-scale testing of the deadly disease. "I think it's a tribute to our testing," he said, adding "no one knows what the numbers are in China".
#Covid19usa We're #1! Thanks for Making America Great Again @realDonaldTrump! Special shout-out to all the dumb shits who thought smart people were overreacting and went out with friends because "this is 'Merica!"— Greg Benson, America's Favorite Comedian (@mediocrefilms) March 26, 2020
GODDAMMIT I MISS HAVING A REAL PRESIDENT pic.twitter.com/PcWMl1Ozzw
It just started in the USA & look at the numbers already ????— OG CoolBeans ???????? (@_GetThePopcorn_) March 26, 2020
My heart breaks for my American friends ???? I want to throw up knowing what this will look like soon. I am so sorry ????
Trump better go to jail for this ???? It's a massacre of the American people#Covid19usa #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/x3gqGwhLMw
Vice-President Mike Pence said coronavirus tests were now available in all 50 states and more than 552,000 tests had been conducted nationwide.
According to Dr Deborah Brix, coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, 55 per cent of all new cases continue out of the New York -- New York Metro area. This includes New Jersey as well, she said and expressed concern over the coronavirus spread.
"At the same time, 19 of the 50 states that had early cases, but have persistently low level of cases and at this point have less than 200 cases," she said. According to Dr Brix, so far the US has done 5,50,000 tests.
In an in interview with CNN, Dr Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious disease expert, said it is difficult to tell where the pandemic will go and how long it will last in the US.
This is the relative percentage of asymptomatic infection — and it "influences everything," he said. It influences transmission, contact tracing, and the measures that the authorities need to take. That's why the most important thing to do now is to conduct widespread testing and collect more data, he asserted.
He called for ratcheting up the current level of contact tracing and testing. "We've got to do it better than we are now".
The surge of cases has hospitals around the country struggling to keep up with the demand for care. In New York, exhausted hospital workers are turning to increasingly desperate measures to combat the virus, CNN reported.
New York Bellevue Hospital Center created a makeshift morgue using tents and refrigerated trucks.
Chicago and Detroit next new hot spots?
Health officials in the US predict areas of Michigan and Illinois could be the next epicentres of the crisis.
Dr Birx said health officials are concerned that counties like Wayne County, Michigan and Cook County, Illinois are showing a "more rapid increase" in cases.
Louisiana, which has seen coronavirus cases climb this week, is already emerging as another hot spot. New Orleans is facing critical shortages of ventilators and protective equipment, an official told CNN on Thursday.
"This is going to be the disaster that defines our generation," said Collin Arnold, director of the city's Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
Hospitals brace for medical equipment shortages
As cases continue to mount, numerous hospitals expect to run out of beds within two weeks.
Former Louisiana Secretary of Health Rebekah Gee said: “If more beds don't become available, then we don't have resources to save the lives that we need to save… That's why these stay-at-home orders are so important."
Desperate for protective face masks, health care workers have been punching holes in plastic office report covers and running string through those holes, Gee added.
New York will allow two patients to share a single ventilator
Amid desperate need for medical equipment, New York state has approved technology that allows two patients to share a ventilator.
"It's not ideal," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday, "but we believe it's workable".
Across the country, 21 states have issued stay-at-home orders, with some not going into effect until the end of the week.
Record-setting unemployment claims
The crisis has dealt a crushing blow to the economy, with thousands of businesses closing or cutting back. The Labour Department reported that the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to 3.28 million, the highest level ever.
Amid the concerning situation, leaders of the US House of Representatives are determined to pass a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Friday, or at the very latest on Saturday, hoping to provide the quickest help possible.
Is Trump still hoping to ease restrictions?
Despite the mounting death toll and cases, the President has set a goal of Easter Sunday, April 12, for reopening the country.
"They [the American people] have to go back to work, our country has to go back, our country is based on that and I think it's going to happen pretty quickly.
"A lot of people misinterpret when I say go back - they're going to be practising as much as you can social distancing, and washing your hands and not shaking hands and all of the things we talked about," he said.
The President promised more details next week.
In a letter to state governors on Thursday, Trump said his team plans to release federal social distancing guidelines that may advise some regions to loosen restrictions.
Trump wrote of a "long battle ahead" and said "robust" testing protocols might allow some counties to lift their safeguards against the coronavirus.
He said the "new guidelines" would create low, medium and high risk zones that would allow the government to advise on "maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures they have put in place".
G20 leaders to inject $5 trillion into global economy
G20 leaders said they committed during a videoconference summit to implement and fund all necessary health measures needed to stop the virus’ spread.
“The G20 is committed to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic,” along with the World Health Organization and other international institutions, they said.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva plans to ask the Fund’s steering committee on Friday to consider doubling the current $50 billion in emergency financing available to help developing countries deal with the virus, Reuters reported.