US surpasses China, leads world in confirmed coronavirus cases

  • 1 week ago
  • 291
US surpasses China, leads world in confirmed coronavirus cases

The number of US coronavirus infections climbed above 82,000 on Thursday, surpassing the national tallies of China and Italy, as New York,New Orleans and other hot spots faced a surge in hospitalizations and looming shortages of supplies, staff and sick beds.

With medical facilities running low on ventilators and protective masks and hampered by limited diagnostic testing capacity, the US death toll from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, rose beyond 1,200.

“Any scenario that is realistic will overwhelm the capacity of the healthcare system,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told a news conference. He described the state’s projected shortfall in ventilators - machines that support the respiration of people have cannot breathe on their own - as “astronomical.”

“It’s not like they have them sitting in the warehouse,” Cuomo added. “There is no stockpile available.”

At least one New York City hospital, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan, has begun a trial of sharing single ventilators between two patients.

While New York was the coronavirus epicenter in the United States this week, the next big wave of infections appeared headed for Louisiana, where demand for ventilators has already doubled. In New Orleans, the state’s biggest city, Mardi Gras celebrations late last month are believed to have fueled the outbreak.

 

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said New Orleans would be out of ventilators by April 2 and potentially out of bed space by April 7 “if we don’t flatten the infection curve soon.”

“It’s not conjecture, it’s not some flimsy theory,” Edwards told a press conference. “This is what is going to happen.”

About 80 percent of Louisiana’s intensive care patients are now onbreathing machines, up from the normal rate of 30-40 percent, saidWarner Thomas, chief executive of Ochsner Health System, thestate’s hospital group.

Scarcities of protective masks, gloves, gowns and eyewear for doctors and nurses - reports abound of healthcare workers recycling old face masks, making their own or even using trash bags to shield themselves - have emerged as a national problem.

“Our nurses across the country do not have the personal protective equipment that is necessary to care for COVID patients, or any of their patients,” Bonnie Castillo, head of the largest US nurses union, National Nurses United, told MSNBC.

In an ominous milestone for the United States as a whole, at least 82,153 people nationwide were infected as of Thursday, according to a Reuters tally from state and local public health agencies. China, where the global pandemic emerged late last year, had the second highest number of cases, 81,285, followed by Italy with 80,539.

At least 1,204 Americans have died from COVID-19, which has proven especially dangerous to the elderly and people with underlying chronic health conditions, Reuters’ tally showed.

Comments