As hospitals and morgues fill up in New York, President Trump continues to argue with Governor Cuomo. New York has never been so quiet, but the roar of ambulances keeps ringing through the empty streets. This week, 911 broke all records – recording more calls in one day than during the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers.
“That was nothing compared to this. We were open and waiting for patients who never came. Now they just keep coming,” Dr. Steve Kasspidis told Sky News. He works in the hardest hit Queens area in the emergency room.
The virus appears to have spread in New York for weeks without the residents and city government realizing it. On March 10, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that for the majority of New Yorkers, ordinary life should continue. Less than three weeks later, the hospitals can hardly cope with the wave of sick people.
Elmhurst, a neighborhood with many immigrants in Queens, tells stories about people who have to wait more than 24 hours for a bed. Nurses complain about a shortage of protective equipment – a Brooklyn hospital wipes the face masks with disinfectant hand gel to reuse them for up to a week. The intensive care units are full next Friday, it is expected, so they are working hard to set up emergency hospitals.
The White House, meanwhile, provides little clarity about aid. President Trump told Fox News that he “does not believe” that the state of New York really needs 30,000 respirators, as Governor Andrew Cuomo predicted. Trump: “You sometimes go to big hospitals, and then they have two respirators. And now they suddenly say: can we order 30,000? ”
Cuomo was already doing a lot, when only 400 machines were sent earlier this week. “Do you want a pat on the back because you sent 400 devices? What should we do with 400 pieces if we need 30,000? ” In the meantime another 4,000 are on the way.
Trump is not good at that kind of criticism. Speaking of governors asking for help, he said, “It is a two-way street. They should also treat us well. They cannot say; oh, dear, we should get this, we should get that. ” Trump previously said Cuomo should have bought his own breathing equipment, and spoke of Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer in a punitive manner.
She is one of the governors who have complained about the lack of coordination from the White House. “We don’t like to see complaints,” Trump told friend TV presenter Sean Hannity on Fox News. Whitmer has now said on local radio that she has difficulty obtaining respirators because manufacturers have been told not to send anything to Michigan. In the largest city there, Detroit, more infections are quickly being discovered.
A doctor at one of the most heavily taxed hospitals, Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, pointed out Trump’s bluntness and slow, confusing response as a driver of the epidemic. “It is easy to say of Trump that he has already killed people through his reaction. And that he will continue to kill people if he wants to reopen the country, ”the doctor told Buzzfeed.
In conservative circles and the White House in particular, there is the idea that above all, the economy should start running again. Trump wants the churches to be full at Easter. He will return to this partly under pressure from medical experts – the intention now is to have people return to work in certain regions that are at least affected. But that is risky, some allies also recognize.
“If he throws Nebraska open because there aren’t many cases and suddenly more cases surface, he’ll pay a price,” warned former press chief Sean Spicer in Politico.
Everything is political in the US, even a pandemic. Republicans are still less concerned about the virus than Democrats, polls showed. Democrats and the media would try to harm the president with an exaggerated reaction. The seriousness of the situation is becoming increasingly apparent, but Republican governors are more cautious about measures. For example, in Florida, where the virus is steadily gaining ground, the governor does not want to direct citizens everywhere to stay at home.
The US appears to be facing a series of outbreaks. The situation is also dire in New Orleans and elsewhere. The Mardi Grass Carnival seems to have caused many sick people there. Louisiana Governor Edwards warned that his state will also be out by the respirators next week, and will have no beds left a week later.
A hint of good news comes from New York: the number of hospital admissions no longer doubles every three days, but every four days.