Two of the principal U.S. coronavirus hot spots – New York and Louisiana – reported their biggest jumps in COVID-19 deaths yet on Friday, as the White House sent mixed messages on whether Americans should cover their face if they venture outdoors.
Surging deaths in New York City and New Orleans showed that a wave of lethal coronavirus infections expected to overwhelm hospitals, even in relatively affluent, urban areas with extensive healthcare systems, has begun to crash down on the United States.
Governors, mayors and physicians have voiced alarm for weeks over crippling scarcities of personal protective gear for first-responders and front-line healthcare workers, as well as ventilators and other medical supplies.
With the federal government's national strategic stockpile of such equipment nearly depleted, states have been forced essentially to compete against each other on the open market for vital resources.
Cities across the country have also scrambled to expand hospital capacity and recruit healthcare professionals out of retirement to meet looming shortages of sick beds and personnel.
New York City, the pandemic's U.S. epicenter, has mere days to prepare for the worst of the outbreak, said Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose city has suffered more than a quarter of the 7,000-plus coronavirus deaths to date nationwide.
New York is in an "extraordinary race against time," de Blasio told a news briefing on Friday, renewing his call for the federal government to mobilize the U.S. military.
"We're dealing with an enemy that is killing thousands of Americans, and a lot of people are dying who dont need to die," he said. "You cant say, every state for themselves, every city for themselves. That is not America."
Americans, almost all of them under orders to stay home except for essential outings such as grocery shopping or seeing a doctor, have heard conflicting guidance in recent days about the need for wearing face masks in public.
In light of new evidence, @CDCgov recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (grocery stores, pharmacies, etc) especially in areas of significant community-based transmissionhttps://t.co/Ktt7YS7DXz pic.twitter.com/LCOfw6VFqH
— U.S. Surgeon General (@Surgeon_General) April 3, 2020
At the White House on Friday, President Donald Trump seemed to muddy the waters further when he announced that federal health authorities are now recommending individuals wear cloth face coverings to stem transmission of the virus. But he stressed the advisory was purely voluntary, and that he would not be heeding the recommendation himself.
"With the masks, it's going to be a really voluntary thing. You can do it, you don't have to do it. I'm choosing not to do it," he said.
REPORTER: Why are you opposed to wearing a mask?
TRUMP: "I just don't want to wear one myself … I'm feeling good. I just don't want to be doing– somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk. The great Resolute Desk … I don't see it for myself." pic.twitter.com/7dWmQQY3Aw
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 3, 2020
Doctors and nurses, many lacking adequate supplies of medical-grade face masks and other protective gear, were already confronting an onslaught from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the highly contagious coronavirus.
One physician at a New York City hospital recounted arriving at work on Friday to learn that three of his COVID-19 patients had died that morning. A few hours later, he had intubated two others.
'Never seen anything like this'
"I've never seen anything like this. I've never even heard of something like this in the developed world," he told Reuters on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak with the media.
Another hot spot, Louisiana, reported a sharp jump in deaths, climbing 20% to 370 on Friday, marking the highest day-to-day increase in fatal cases yet for the Gulf Coast state.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards pleaded for residents to abide by his state-at-home order as the number of infections statewide surpassed 10,000.
"For those of you who are not taking the crisis seriously, I am asking you to do a better job," he told a news conference.
Louisiana's largest city, New Orleans, where Mardi Gras celebrations in late February are believedRead More – Source