The United States on Thursday surpassed China and Italy as the country with the most coronavirus cases, according to a Reuters tally, as New York, New Orleans and other hot spots faced a surge in hospitalizations and looming shortages in supplies, staff, and sick beds.
Medical facilities were running low on ventilators and protective masks and were hampered by limited diagnostic testing capacity.
The number of U.S. cases of coronavirus reached 81,378, the Reuters tally showed. China was second with 81,285 cases, and Italy third with 80,539 cases.
At least 1,178 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, which has proven especially dangerous to the elderly and people with underlying chronic health conditions, according to a running tally based on reports from state and local public health authorities.
An expected shortfall of ventilators – machines that support respiration for people who have lost the ability to breathe on their own – was substantial, as a surge of cases overwhelms New York hospitals, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told a news conference.
“Any scenario that is realistic will overwhelm the capacity of the healthcare system,” he said. “The number of ventilators we need is so astronomical – it’s not like they have them sitting in the warehouse,” Cuomo added. “There is no stockpile available.”
At least one New York hospital has begun a trial of sharing single ventilators between two patients.
Dr. Craig Smith, surgeon in chief at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan, wrote to staff that teams had worked “day and night” to get the split-ventilation experiment going.
While New York was the coronavirus epicenter in the United States this week, Louisiana could be the next. In New Orleans, the state’s biggest city, Mardi Gras celebrations last month were believed to have fueled the outbreak.
With Reuters report