Coronavirus transforms New York as US deaths top 4,000

by Peter Hutchison

Emergency field hospitals were readied in New York’s Central Park and at the home of the US Open tennis tournament as the number of American deaths from the coronavirus pandemic surged past 4,000 — higher than the toll in China.

The pandemic has killed more than 1,700 New Yorkers and President Donald Trump, a native of the city, warned in Washington of “a very, very painful two weeks” to come for the entire country.

Already the hardest-hit area, America’s financial capital is in a race to ramp up hospital capacity before cases peak.

Around a dozen tents, equipped with 68 beds and 10 ventilators, have been put up in Manhattan’s iconic park, with COVID-19 patients expected to start arriving.

“You see movies like ‘Contagion’ and you think it’s so far from the truth, it will never happen. So to see it actually happening here is very surreal,” 57-year-old passerby Joanne Dunbar told AFP on Tuesday.

Declared coronavirus cases across the US surged to 189,510 early Wednesday, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University, with 4,076 deaths.

That is more than the 3,310 fatalities reported by China.

New York state has seen far more cases — 76,000 — and deaths than any other since announcing its first infection on March 1 and quickly emerging as the epicenter of the US outbreak.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday the city was tripling hospital capacity in a bid to get ready for the peak of the pandemic expected in two to three weeks.

“(We) will require a level of hospital capacity we’ve never seen… never even conceived of,” he told NBC. (AFP)

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