Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for coronavirus (COVID-19) in set-up tents to triage possible COVID-19 patients outside before they enter the main Emergency department area at St. Barnabas hospital in the Bronx on March 24, 2020 in New York City. (AFP photo)
With the World Health Organization saying on Tuesday (March 24) the United States has the potential to become the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, New York Cityís mayor accepted the moniker during a news conference.
"I donít want us to be the epicenter, but we are the epicenter of this crisis for this nation," New York mayor Bill de Blasio said.
De Blasio spoke from City Hall in lower Manhattan on the latest count. He confirmed a total of 14,776 infected, or a third of all the cases in the United States. A total of 131 have died in New York to date.
More than 42,000 people in the United States have contracted COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, and at least 559 have died. In warning the country could become the global epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, the WHO cited a "very large acceleration" in infections.
Healthcare workers and local officials have warned that the U.S. healthcare delivery system could collapse as the rapid spread of the contagious virus raises the possibility of an inadequate number of intensive care beds and equipment to treat severely ill patients.
In New York, officials have appealed for ventilators, masks and other medical equipment as the number of coronavirus cases spiraled and critical items were in short supply. Officials in California, another hot spot, called for 50,000 additional hospital beds.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a Fox News interview, said he had spoken to Trump and appreciated the presidentís efforts.
"And just a short time ago, I got the very good news that we got an announcement from the federal government that 4,000 more ventilators are on the way to New York state in the next 48 hours, and half of them will come to New York City. Two thousand more ventilators for New York City. And thatís great news," de Blasio said.
Earlier in the day, New Yorkís Governor, Andrew Cuomo, said New York needs "30,000" more to deal.