The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in the US crossed 5,000 and the number of infections surged past 200,000 on Thursday (2) as the country grappled with an unprecedented health crisis, including a huge shortage of medical supplies and protective equipment.
According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the number of Americans to have been infected by coronavirus stood at over 216,000, and 5,137 others lost their lives from the deadly disease by Thursday morning.
The number of confirmed infections across the US rose by more than 25,000 in one day. The worst-hit place is New York City, where nearly 47,500 people have tested positive and more than 1,300 have died.
Officials say as many as 240,000 people could die in the US from the disease even with the mitigation measures in place.
In Connecticut, a six-week-old baby has died from coronavirus, believed to be America”s youngest victim of the virus so far.
President Donald Trump assured the nation that his administration was waging an all-out war against the COVID-19 epidemic that has claimed over 48,000 lives and infected 950,000 others across the world since it emerged in China last year.
“America continues to wage all-out war to defeat the virus this horrible, horrible virus. You see how terrible it is, especially when you look at the numbers from yesterday,” he told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.
“We are attacking the virus on every front was social distancing, economic support for our workers, rapid medical intervention and very serious innovation and banning dangerous foreign travel that threatens the health of our people,” Trump said.
But the number of infections keeps on rising with every passing day in the US, giving rise to a scary scenario, which Americans have not witnessed in decades.
According to US media reports, several states have early run out of their emergency stockpiles of medical supplies like masks, gowns and gloves.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has delivered more than 11.6 million N-95 masks, 5.2 million face shields, 22 million gloves and 7,140 ventilators, exhausting the emergency stockpile, an official was quoted as saying by The New York Times on Wednesday.
According to a report in the daily quoting a senior administration official, there was a “tiny slice” of personal protective equipment left over that is being preserved for emergency medical workers for the federal government.
“The federal government has nearly emptied its emergency stockpile of protective medical supplies like masks, gowns and gloves as state governors continue to plea for protective gear for desperate hospital workers,” it said.
Even as there is no national lockdown like in India in the US, nearly 270 million of the 330 million population are forced into stay-in-home situation ranging from 30 days to 70 days. All schools, colleges and universities have been shut down, and America”s booming tourism and travel industry has come to a standstill.
The administration has roped in car manufacturers, plane builders and other companies to make thousands of ventilators, required in the treatment of patients. In all, 11 companies are making ventilators on a war footing.
“We will fairly soon be at a point where we have far more than we can use,” Trump said.
While medical supplies and equipment are being sent to major cities including New York every day, more than 17,000 national guard personnel have now been activated across the country.
“Difficult days are ahead for our nation. We”re going to have a couple of weeks starting pretty much now, but especially a few days from now they”re going to be horrific,” Trump told the nation.
“But even in the most challenging of times, Americans do not despair, we do not give in to fear. We pull together, we persevere, and we overcome, and we win,” he said.
Coronavirus is so contagious that nobody has ever seen anything like this where large groups of people all of the sudden just by being in the presence of somebody have it, Trump said.
Responding to a question, Trump ruled out issuing a nationwide stay-at-home order. He, however, welcomed the move by different states, with Florida being the latest one to join the list.
Dr Anthony Fauci, member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that ultimate solution to COVID-19 would be a vaccine.
“The ultimate game changer in this will be a vaccine, the same way a vaccine for other diseases that were scourges in the past that now we don”t even worry about,” he said.
It is still in Phase 1 of the trail, he said, adding that it will take a year and half to develop that.
Vice President Mike Pence urged Americans to strictly adhere to the social mitigation measures till April 30.
“Our priority right now is ensuring that every American takes 30 days to slow the spread too. The best thing we can do for one another, for our family”s health, for the most vulnerable among us is practice those mitigation strategies that the president outlined yesterday for the next 30 days,” he said.
Testing of coronavirus has been ramped up, he said.
“Today we are now doing more than 100,000 test a day, more than 1.2 million test have been performed, states have established drive-through sites all across the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, there was bad news for the country on the economy front.
The Department of Labour said the first-time unemployment claims surged by 3.34 million to a seasonally adjusted 6.65 million in the week ended March 28.