New York now epicenter of outbreak in US with roughly 5% of all coronavirus cases worldwide
The escalating crisis has prompted Trump to activate US National Guard units in the state and other severely-hit states: Washington and California
With more than 16,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 117 deaths, New York has now become the epicenter of the outbreak in the US. About 5% of the total confirmed 339,259 COVID-19 cases worldwide can be traced back to the state.
The escalating crisis has prompted Trump to activate US National Guard units in the state and other severely-hit states: Washington and California.
"And through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the federal government will be funding 100% of the cost of deploying national guard units to carry out approved missions to stop the virus while those governors remain in command," the president said at a White House briefing.
"We'll be following them and we hope they can do the job and I think they will. I spoke with all three of the governors today, just a little while ago and they're very happy with what we're going to be doing." Trump added.
The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, who is steering the response in the state, announced Sunday, March 22, that all non-essential services will be closed. Residents should step out only to gather essentials such as food, medicines and for a short workout, he said.
"Non-essential businesses statewide are closing at 8 PM TONIGHT (in-office functions). Essential businesses including pharmacies & grocery stores will remain open," he tweeted on March 22.
Cuomo said the state will hit "pause" on its vibrant commercial and social life. These restrictions could go on for months but people will be able to rely on transportation links, including subways and commuter railways on limited schedules. “The timeline, nobody can tell you, it depends on how we handle it. But 40%, up to 80% of the population will wind up getting this virus. All we are trying to do is slow the spread, but it will spread," Cuomo said.
The situation in New York
Cuomo announced that more than half of the confirmed cases were aged between 18 and 49. Of those confirmed with the infection, 13% had been hospitalized, as of March 22 morning.
According to the police commissioner, Dermot F Shea, 98 people in the New York Police Department, have tested positive for the infection. The increase in the number of confirmed infections is the result of more tests being made available. As a result, more people are getting themselves tested.
What is more, there is an added concern that hospitals will soon get overwhelmed. The coronavirus outbreak in New York will get worse and shortages of key medical supplies will wreak more damage, Bill de Blasio, New York City's mayor said.
"We're about 10 days away from seeing widespread shortages. If we don't get more ventilators people will die," Blasio said on March 22. "All Americans deserve the blunt truth. It's only getting worse, and in fact, April and May are going to be a lot worse," he added.
In response, Cuomo will be putting certain measures in place so hospitals can treat a surge. Like China, the state will see temporary hospitals coming up in three New York City suburbs. They are also in the process of setting up a massive shelter in the Jacob Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency would build four hospitals with 1,000 total beds at the sprawling Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Midtown Manhattan, Cuomo announced.
"NY is doing everything we can to expand hospital capacity. We are asking all NYS hospitals to increase capacity by 100%—regulations have been waived. We are ordering that every hospital MUST increase capacity by at least 50%. Every hospital must do its part to expand capacity," Cuomo tweeted March 22.
Additionally, Cuomo has requested for more help. "NYS is calling on recently retired health care professionals to sign up to be part of a reserve staff if the need arises. We also need qualified medical and nursing school students & staff, he tweeted.
As for shortage in medical personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, Cuomo has asked the federal government to direct the private sector to step up and produce them. “If I had the power, I would do it in New York,” he said.
Massive testing will continue in the state, as it has opened its doors to South Korea's drive-through testing concept. But only people who meet the criteria are being tested there. On Friday, March 20, New York City's health department issued an alert saying only people who require hospitalization should be tested, due to shortages of protective equipment such as face masks.
The federal government will also carry out drug trials -- hydroxychloroquine, Zithromax and chloroquine -- in the state. “The president is optimistic about these drugs,” Cuomo said. “I’ve spoken with several health officials, and there is a good basis to believe that they could work," he added.