NEW YORK/ LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The US government raced on Tuesday to build hundreds of makeshift hospitals near major cities as healthcare systems were pushed to capacity, and sometimes beyond, by the coronavirus pandemic.
Even as millions of Americans hunkered down in their homes under strict “stay-at-home” orders, the death toll, as tallied by Reuters, shot up by more than 850 on Tuesday, by far the most for a single day.
Nearly half of the new fatalities were in New York state, the epicentre of the pandemic despite closed businesses and deserted streets. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pleaded for immediate reinforcements in the country’s biggest city from the Trump administration.
“This is the point at which we must be prepared for next week, when we expect a huge increase in the number of cases. What I asked very clearly, last week, was for military medical personnel to be deployed here,” de Blasio said at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, where a field hospital was being hastily built.
The sports complex is home to the U.S. Open Tennis Championship, set to begin on Aug. 24. It remains on the calendar despite reports that Wimbledon, the sport’s most prestigious event, is unlikely to go forward as scheduled in June. The U.S. Open and Wimbledon are two of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments.
De Blasio, a Democrat who last year sought his party’s presidential nomination, said he had asked the White House for an additional 1,000 nurses, 300 respiratory therapists and 150 doctors by Sunday.
“DEBILITATING AND EXHAUSTING”
Nearly 3,900 people have already died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, in the United States, more than the 2,977 who died in the Sept 11, 2001, attacks. The total confirmed US cases rose to 187,000.
White House medical experts say 100,000 to 240,000 people could ultimately perish from the respiratory disease in the United States, despite unprecedented orders by state and local governments largely confining Americans to their homes.
In addition to the rules issued by at least 30 states, President Donald Trump, reversing course, said this week that most businesses and schools should remain shut at least through the end of April. Trump, speaking at the White House on Tuesday, said the next two weeks would be “very, very painful” for the country.