New York’s governor issued an urgent appeal for medical volunteers Monday amid a “staggering” number of deaths from the coronavirus, as he and health officials warned that the crisis unfolding in New York City is just a preview of what other communities across the U.S. could soon face.
“Please come help us in New York now,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as the state’s death toll climbed by more than 250 in a single day for a total of more than 1,200 victims, most of them in the city. He said an additional 1 million health care workers are needed to tackle the crisis.
“We’ve lost over 1,000 New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “To me, we’re beyond staggering already. We’ve reached staggering.”
Even before the governor’s appeal went out, close to 80,000 former nurses, doctors and other professionals in New York were stepping up to volunteer, and a Navy hospital ship, also sent to the city after 9/11, had arrived with 1,000 beds to relieve pressure on the city’s overwhelmed hospitals.
“Whatever it is that they need, I’m willing to do,” said Jerry Kops, a musician and former nurse whose tour with the show Blue Man Group was abruptly halted by the outbreak. He returned to his Long Island home, where he volunteered to be a nurse again.
While he is waiting to be officially reinstated, he said in an interview late last week, he has helped instruct workers at an assisted living home on how to protect themselves and their patients.
In Europe, meanwhile, hard-hit Italy and Spain saw their death tolls climb by more than 800 each, but the World Health Organization’s emergency chief said cases there were “potentially stabilizing.” At the same time, he warned that this is no time to let up on tough containment measures.
“We have to now push the virus down, and that will not happen by itself,” said Dr. Michael Ryan.
Three-quarters of a million people around the world have become infected and around 37,000 have died, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. reported nearly 160,000 infections and about 2,900 deaths, with New York City the nation’s worst hot spot, but with New Orleans, Detroit and other cities also seeing alarming clusters.
“Anyone who says this situation is a New York City-only situation is in a state of denial,” Cuomo said. “You see this virus move across the state. You see this virus move across the nation. There is no American who is immune to this virus.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, similarly warned that smaller cities are likely about to see cases “take off” the way they have in New York City.
“What we’ve learned from painful experience with this outbreak is that it goes along almost on a straight line, then a little acceleration, acceleration, then it goes way up,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”