NEW YORK — New York City’s mayor prepared today to order his city behind closed doors in an attempt to slow a pandemic that has swept across the globe and threatened to make the city of 8.5 million one of the world’s biggest coronavirus hot spots. Officials worldwide warned of a critical shortage of medical supplies.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also called for getting everything from masks to gowns, as well as doctors and other medical workers to New York City, and asked President Donald Trump to have the U.S. military take over the logistics of making and distributing medical supplies.
The top infectious disease expert in the U.S. promised New York City and the other hardest-hit places that critical supplies will not run out.
The medical supplies are about to start pouring in and will be “clearly directed to those hot spots that need it most,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”
But Fauci and other emergency officials did not give hard figures on the number of masks or anything else on their way. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged federal officials to step in quickly as hard-hit states outbid each other for ever scarcer supplies, sometimes doubling or tripling prices.
Worldwide, more than 316,000 people have been infected and nearly 13,600 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. About 150 countries now have confirmed cases, and deaths have been reported in more than 30 American states.
There were more than 27,000 cases across the U.S. and 375 deaths. New York state accounted for 114 deaths, mostly in New York City, where there were more than 4,400 infections, but officials warned the concentration may be more because of increased testing.
On Sunday, New York passed Washington state, the initial epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, in the number of fatal cases. Only China, Italy and Spain have reported more COVID-19 cases than the U.S.
Cuomo spent Saturday scouting places to build makeshift hospitals and told existing hospitals to figure out ways to increase their current beds by at least 50% because predictions from health officials are COVID-19 cases needing advanced medical care will top 100,000 in New York state in the next month or so, which is more than double the current number.
Cuomo said he was stunned and offended as he toured the city Saturday and gave local officials a day to figure out a plan whether it be closing parks, closing playgrounds or opening streets, typically teeming with traffic but now quiet, only to pedestrians.
“It’s insensitive. It’s arrogant. It’s self-destructive. It’s disrespectful to other people,” Cuomo said. “It has to stop and it has to stop now.”
In the rest of the United States, parts of the country found themselves moving toward the kind of problems seen in New York.
There was a unified message to stay away from large gatherings. Officials called them different things — social distancing, sheltering in place, or in the case of Nashville, Tennessee, a “safer at home” order.
“We’re all in quarantine now. Think about it,” Cuomo said.