New York: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that a “tsunami wave” of coronavirus cases will crash in the next two to three weeks on the healthcare system of the state, which is the epicentre of the infection in the US with 157 deaths.
“New York City was seeing double of the number of cases every two and a half days — that can take your breath away. That curve they keep talking about that we have to flatten — the curve — that’s not a curve that is a wave, a tsunami,” Cuomo said.
Appearing on a CNN show, Cuomo said, “This wave is going to crash over our healthcare system. It will crash anywhere from 10 days to three weeks (from now), it is going to overwhelm the system,” he said.
The US now has at least 42,663 coronavirus cases and 541 deaths. For the first time on Monday, the US reported more than 100 deaths in a single day due to the virus. After the initial cases were reported in Seattle, New York State has now become the epicentre of the outbreak in America. The state has been the hardest hit with a total of 20,875 cases and 157 deaths.
New York City alone has seen 13,119 cases. The city’s high population density has triggered fears of the virus spreading further and faster.
At a White House briefing, White House’s Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah L Birx said nearly 1 in 1,000 people in the region have contracted the virus, an “attack rate” five times that of other areas. Cuomo has signed an executive order requiring all hospitals to increase capacity by a minimum of 50 per cent with a goal of increasing capacity by 100 per cent.
To cater to the hospital capacity, the governor said the State Department of Financial Services is requesting that health insurers disclose the number of nurses, doctors and other health professionals they employ so the state can reach out to those employees and ask them to temporarily serve in the medical field during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor also announced that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of a new experimental drug in New York on a compassionate care basis to help treat COVID-19 patients.
The trial will use antibody injections to help stimulate and promote individuals’ immune systems against the virus.
Further, Cuomo announced an initial delivery of hospital supplies to Jacob K Javits Center, a sprawling convention centre in Manhattan, where The Federal Emergency Management Agency has started to build a 1,000-bed temporary hospital that will boost New York’s medical capacity.
The Jacob K Javits hospital, which will open next week, is in addition to the four sites selected by the Army Corps of Engineers that will create temporary medical facilities in downstate New York with total capacity up to 4,000.
The federal administration has deployed 339,760 N-95 masks, 861,700 surgical masks, 353,300 gloves, 145,122 gowns and 197,085 face shields to New York State with many state supplies already sent to the Javits Center.
Cuomo voiced grave concern over the lack of sufficient ventilators in the state to deal with the growing number of cases.
He said the federal government has sent 500 ventilators to the state but that is a small per cent of the actual requirement.
“We can scramble and create beds. We won’t have the equipment and we won’t have the ventilators. I have been saying for weeks we need 30,000 ventilators. I’ve been saying it publicly, I’ve been requesting from the federal agencies. They’ve sent 500 ventilators, we need 30,000 ventilators. If you don’t have the ventilator, a person who needs the ventilator will die without the ventilator. It’s a respiratory disease,” Cuomo said.
Earlier, the New York governor had said that there is need to ensure “economic viability” and pivot to a more functional economy. He said whether young people and persons with strong immunities could resume to work was being looked into.
“There has to be a balance or parallel tracks that we’re going down. We’re talking about public health, we’re talking about isolation, we’re talking about protecting protecting lives. There also has to be a parallel track that talks about economic viability,” Cuomo said.
“I take total responsibility for shutting off the economy in terms of essential workers. But we also have to start to plan the pivot back to economic functionality. You can’t stop the economy forever,” Cuomo said.
He added that there is need to think about whether everyone stays out of work and for how long.
Cuomo has implemented the New York State on ‘pause’ executive order, a 10-point policy to ensure safety for everyone.
It includes a new directive that all non-essential businesses statewide must close in-office personnel functions effective at 8 pm on Sunday and temporarily ban all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason.
When in public individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet from others and young people should also practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable populations.
Cuomo said the state has implemented New York ‘pause’ and “we have to start thinking about New York ‘forward’ that will require thinking about how to restart or transition to a restart of the economy.
He said the state of New York has tested 78,000 cases and as of Sunday about 25 per cent of all the testing nationwide is being produced in New York. New York state has about 20,000 positive cases state-wide.
Currently 13 per cent of the cases are hospitalised and of this 24 per cent require ICU and ventilator facilities.