NEW YORK: More than 1,000 people have died in the New York City alone from COVID-19 as the authorities struggled to procure enough medical equipment to cope with the rising coronavirus cases and warned that it is “approaching the toughest weeks of this crisis.”
According to the official data, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the City was 41,771 and 1,096 people died of the disease as of March 31.
At least 8,400 people are hospitalized and of those, at least 1,888 are in the ICU.
New York State, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, had on Sunday passed the grim milestone of more than 1,000 deaths due to the novel coronavirus, with Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that thousands of people might die before the crisis ends.
New York State now has 75,000 coronavirus cases and 1,550 people have died of the disease, an increase of 332 deaths within 24 hours.
“We’re approaching the toughest weeks of this crisis, and our City is rising to the challenge,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.
“We are increasing hospital capacity at breakneck speed to ensure that every person in need of care will get it – no questions asked,” he said.
State and City officials have been struggling to procure enough medical equipment and supplies and even healthcare personnel to deal with the rapidly growing coronavirus cases.
As hospitals across the state operate at more than full capacity, temporary hospital facilities are being constructed at various locations across the city, from Central Park to convention centres to the site of the US Open tennis tournament.
The mayor announced that a new temporary hospital facility will be set up at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, Queens, the home of the US Open.
The facility will treat COVID non-ICU patients beginning next Tuesday and will reach its full capacity of 350 patients over the next three weeks.
These additional beds will help relieve some of the current need at Elmhurst Hospital.
NYC Health and Hospitals, which operates the public hospitals and clinics in New York City, has now added 1,000 contract nurses to support the existing staff system.
To support the continued surge of patients, Health + Hospitals will also add an additional 1,000 nurses in the coming weeks.
The City has also asked the federal government to supply 1,000 nurses, 3,000 respiratory therapists, and 150 doctors to support the hospital staff.
It has also put out a call to oral surgeons, plastic surgeons, and veterinarians to donate ventilators that are currently not in use.
To date, a total of 3,056,000 face masks, 3,287,880 N95 masks, 65,470 gowns, and 1,305,940 surgical gloves to hospitals have been distributed across the City.
Cuomo, addressing his daily press briefing on the COVID19 pandemic, said that a new hospital network Central Coordinating Team will help facilitate a more coordinated and strategic approach among the state’s healthcare system in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuomo, whose brother and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo tested positive for the virus, said that states have to prepare to deal with the apex, when the number of COVID-19 cases will peak.
“We’re still going up the mountain. The apex of the curve and then we come down the other side of the mountain. We are planning now for the battle at the top of the mountain,” he said, adding that the state is getting a staffing plan ready and stockpiling equipment.
“We’re gathering equipment that we don’t need today because today is not the day of the battle. The battle is when we hit the apex, depending on who you believe, 14 days to 30 days from today,” he said.
Voicing concern that states and cities in the US do not have enough supplies, Cuomo said there is need to pool all supplies.
“We also talked again at length about ventilators which everybody knows is a key piece of equipment, identifying all the ventilators in the state, who has them, who has them in a stockpile, who ordered them, who expects them to come in and we’ll have one stockpile of ventilators that we can distribute for everyone who needs them.
“We also talked about splitting of ventilators because that’s a technology that does exist. It’s been used before. It’s not ideal. You take one ventilator and it’s used for two patients,” he said.