Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Deaths Could Exceed 200,000; Social Curbs Extended


Coronavirus Live Updates: British Health Minister Has Virus; No Audience for Next Democratic Debate

Faced with the grim prospect that 200,000 Americans could die even with aggressive action to slow the spread of the coronavirus, President Trump extended the guidelines on avoiding nonessential travel, staying away from work, visiting bars and restaurants and gathering in groups of more than 10 for at least another month.

“We can expect that by June 1, we will be well on our way to recovery,” Mr. Trump said on Sunday evening. “We think by June 1. A lot of great things will be happening.”

Even as hospitals across New York City become flooded with coronavirus cases, some patients are being left behind in their homes because the health care system cannot handle them all, according to dozens of interviews with paramedics, New York Fire Department officials and union representatives, as well as city data.

In a matter of days, the city’s 911 system has been overwhelmed by calls for medical distress apparently related to the virus. Typically, the system sees about 4,000 Emergency Medical Services calls a day.

Last Thursday, dispatchers took more than 7,000 calls — a volume not seen since the Sept. 11 attacks. The record for the number of calls in a day was broken three times in the last week.

If the rate of growth in cases in the New York area continues, it will suffer a more severe outbreak than those experienced in Wuhan, China, or the Lombardy region of Italy.

Because of the volume, emergency medical workers are making life-or-death decisions about who is sick enough to take to crowded emergency rooms and who appears well enough to leave behind. They are assessing on scene which patients should receive time-consuming measures like CPR and intubation, and which patients are too far gone to save.

And, they are doing it, in most cases they say, without appropriate equipment to protect themselves from infection.

Phil Suarez, a paramedic, was dispatched to two homes in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, where entire families in cramped apartments, appeared to be stricken with the virus.

“I’m terrified,” said Mr. Suarez, who has been a paramedic in New York City for 26 years and had assisted in rescue efforts during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and later served in the Iraq war. “I honestly don’t know if I’m going to survive. I’m terrified of what I’ve already possibly brought home.”

“There are some encouraging signals,” especially from the worst hit areas, Mr. Speranza said. “But it is not enough.” Opening up too soon, he added, could “burn everything we’ve obtained until now.”

Chinese companies have kicked into overdrive to supply masks, respirators, testing kits and other protective gear to tackle the fast-moving global pandemic. With its own outbreak seemingly under control, it has looked to sell or donate gear to improve its image on the global stage.

But some faulty products are showing up in the supply chain, prompting governments in the Netherlands, Turkey and the Philippines to complain.

A commercial aircraft carrying gloves, masks, gowns and other medical supplies from Shanghai touched down at Kennedy International Airport in New York on Sunday, the first of 22 scheduled flights that White House officials say will funnel much-needed goods to the United States by early April.

The plane carried 130,000 N95 masks, nearly 1.8 million surgical masks and gowns, 10 million gloves and more than 70,000 thermometers, said Lizzie Litzow, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The quality of the gear that was received, however, is unknown.

Faulty protective equipment could endanger the lives of health care workers and malfunctioning tests could prevent sick people from getting essential treatment.

The Netherlands on Saturday recalled hundreds of thousands of face masks from China, after it was revealed that they did not meet standards set by the Dutch health authorities. Spanish officials said last week that hundreds of thousands of testing kits delivered by a Chinese company had only a 30 percent accuracy rate. The Chinese Embassy later said that the company was not on its official list of certified suppliers.

In the Czech Republic, for example, a local newspaper cited medical workers who had complained that as many as 80 percent of the rapid coronavirus tests that the government ordered from China did not work properly.

In the Philippines, a Department of Health official said an early first batch of tests sent from China were defective but later walked back his comments after the Chinese Embassy denied the test kits were part of a donation to the Philippines and said its donations had been assessed by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

The Turkish health authorities have also spoken publicly about their concern about testing kits from China without offering details.

As countries around the world enact lockdowns in an attempt to curb the pandemic, some leaders have scoffed at containment efforts.

In Belarus, the authoritarian President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko called the coronavirus “nothing else but a psychosis” and has joked that a shot or two of vodka a day will poison the virus, advice rejected by medical experts.

Mr. Lukashenko has even suggested that farm work in a tractor, eating breakfast at a particular time or sitting in a sauna can help prevent infection.

While all of Europe and many other parts of the world have suspended professional soccer and other sports leagues, Belarus’s premier league has continued to play, a reflection of the country’s lax coronavirus response.

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has also argued that concerns over the pandemic are overblown.

He visited shopkeepers outside of Brasília, the capital, on Sunday and argued that people must continue their jobs to survive, even while older people should stay home.

“I advocate that you work, that everyone works,” he said, the newspaper Folha de São Paulo reported.

He repeated his argument that the harm to the economy from efforts to curb its spread can be worse than the pandemic itself.

“Sometimes, too much medicine becomes poison,” he added.

Mr. Bolsonaro has called the virus a simple cold and questioned the death toll in São Paulo, the country’s largest city. Brazil has recorded 4,256 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 136 deaths as of Sunday.

Reporting was contributed by Elisabetta Povoledo, Raphael Minder, Elian Peltier, Ali Watkins, Marc Santora, Michael D. Shear, Thomas Fuller, Megan Specia, Austin Ramzy, Neil Vigdor, Kate Taylor, Vivian Yee, Mike Baker, Rick Rojas, Vanessa Swales, Michael Levenson, Aimee Ortiz, Suhasini Raj and Kai Schultz.




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