In a short period of time, New York City has become a city in a state of emergency. It is feared that conditions like those in northern Italy will soon also be found in the US metropolis.
Updated: March 24th, 2020, 11:09 am
According to the bill presented by the Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, on Sunday on CNN, the city has seven days from this Wednesday. Seven days until the hospitals reach their limits. Seven days until doctors may have to decide which seriously ill Covid 19 patient will be ventilated. And which one doesn’t.
“Then people will die who don’t have to die,” said de Blasio. And it’s not just about: It’s about masks, protective clothing, staff, everything a hospital needs to function. April would be “worse than March,” he said. “And I’m afraid May will be worse than April.” – «We are only at the beginning», De Blasio implores his New York citizens. “The worst is yet to come.”
Within two weeks, the lively and vibrant city, the economic center of the east coast, the tourist magnet, became a city in a state of emergency. As in many places in the world, there has been a curfew since Sunday. The parks are still open, but the playgrounds are largely deserted.
The subway still runs to bring nurses, doctors and cashiers to work. But even at rush hour there are often only two or three passengers on a wagon. It is quiet. Hardly anyone goes for a walk. People are queuing in front of the supermarkets, two meters apart, waiting to be let in. All shops are closed except for grocery stores, pharmacies, petrol stations and repair shops.
Intensive care beds already occupied
The fear is about. It is felt in any worried conversation about the virus. Above all, fear of falling ill at the wrong time. Then when nothing works anymore. If it depends on sheer luck whether a ventilator is available.
The picture that de Blasio drew applies to the entire state with its 19.5 million inhabitants. The Governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, presented the data on Monday: There are 3,000 intensive care beds throughout the state; that’s only half as many as in the similarly populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The majority of the 3,000 beds are already occupied. And the feared need is far higher. If the virus continues to spread as it has before, 18,000 to 37,000 intensive care beds with ventilators connected will be needed in a few weeks, says Governor Coumo.
Conditions as expected in Northern Italy
He has now ordered that the hospitals must increase their intensive care capacities by 50 percent – or, if somehow possible, even better by 100 percent. For this purpose, field hospitals should be built where possible. The New York exhibition center, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, is currently being converted into a 1,000-bed hospital in a first step. It will soon be increased to 2000 beds. The US Navy sends a hospital ship with a further 1,000 beds to dock in New York City. However, this is designed for classic war injuries. Not a pandemic. It is primarily intended to accommodate people in need of surgical assistance.
None of this will be enough, Cuomo and de Blasio know that. Both are too realists for that. Conditions like those in northern Italy will almost certainly soon be found in New York as well.
Over 3000 new cases in one day
The virus is spreading at a tremendous rate in New York. For the experts here, the attack rate is the most important indicator. So: how many residents there are per person suffering from Covid-19. In the state there are 1,000 residents for one sick person, said Deborah Birx, the coronavirus coordinator of the White House, on Monday. The value is five times worse than in comparable areas. It’s even more dramatic in New York City. There are only 700 inhabitants for every sick person.
As of Monday, 12,305 cases were counted in New York City alone, 3,260 more than the previous day. In New York City, a third of all cases in the USA are documented. Five percent of the world’s Covid-19 cases are now in New York. The city is one of the major corona epicentres in the world.
But this is also due to the fact that the tests have been massively expanded in the state. Since the federal authorities allowed the state to do its own tests on March 13, 78,000 people have been tested for Covid-19, says Governor Cuomo. Within ten days, the number of 1,000 tests per day was increased to 16,000 tests per day.
Published: March 24th, 2020, 11:09 am