Coronavirus: New York warns of major medical shortages in 10 days

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Image shows New York Mayor Bill de BlasioImage copyright
Reuters

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The city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, warned that “people will die who could have lived otherwise”

The coronavirus outbreak in New York will get worse, with damage accelerated by shortages of key medical supplies, the city’s mayor has said.

“We’re about 10 days away from seeing widespread shortages,” Bill de Blasio said on Sunday. “If we don’t get more ventilators people will die.”

New York state has become the epicentre of the outbreak in the US and accounts for almost half of the country’s cases.

There are now 31,057 confirmed cases nationwide, with 390 deaths.

On Sunday, the state’s Governor Andrew Cuomo said 15,168 people had tested positive for the virus., an increase of more than 4,000 from the previous day.

“All Americans deserve the blunt truth,” Mr de Blasio told NBC News. “It’s only getting worse, and in fact April and May are going to be a lot worse.”

New York now accounts for roughly 5% of Covid-19 cases worldwide.

On Friday, President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for the state which gave it access to billions of dollars of federal aid.

But Mr de Blasio has continued to criticise the administration for what he views as an inadequate response.

“I cannot be blunt enough: if the president doesn’t act, people will die who could have lived otherwise,” he said. “This is going to be the greatest crisis, domestically, since the Great Depression,” he added, referring to the economic crisis of the 1930s.

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Media caption60 days of coronavirus in the US – in 60 seconds

Doctors across New York have reported depleted medical supplies and a lack of protective gear for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the outbreak.

Warnings of such shortages have reverberated across the country as other state governors have pleaded with the federal government to make more supplies available.

In California, officials instructed hospitals to restrict coronavirus testing. Meanwhile, a hospital in Washington state – once the centre of the US outbreak – said it could run out of ventilators by April.

And on Sunday, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said states were “competing against each other” for virus supplies.

“We need millions of masks and hundreds of thousands of gowns and gloves,” he said. “We’re getting just a fraction of that. So, we’re out on the open market competing for these items that we so badly need.”

The US Senate is expected to convene on Sunday to vote on an almost $2 trillion (£1.7 trillion) emergency stimulus bill intended to blunt the punishing economic impact of the pandemic.

A final vote to pass the legislation is scheduled for later in the day.

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