Donald Trump has declared New York State a major disaster area as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases skyrockets and New York City was declared the epicenter of the US outbreak by city Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The US military will now be called in, and the US Army Corps of Engineers have said they plans to take over hotels, sports arenas, college dorms and other buildings in a bid to bolster the number of available hospital rooms.
De Blasio had urged Trump to send in the military and its logistical support to hard-hit New York State, California and Seattle on Wednesday. On Friday de Blasio said: ‘We constitute 30 percent of the cases in the US and 70 per cent of the cases in New York State. Whether we like it or not, we are the epicenter.’
The president’s declaration comes as a hospital in the Bronx revealed it is running low on ventilators and a Queens doctor revealed that an elderly patient experiencing coronavirus symptoms died on the hospital ward floor.
On Friday, patients were seen lining up around the block at test centers in New York City as they tried to get tested for the disease. One video showed hundreds lining up waiting to be tested at Queens’ Elmhurst Hospital.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo had asked for the major disaster declaration, which paves the way for the federal government to pay for up to 75 per cent of the state’s bills for its emergency response to the pandemic.
New York State now has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nation, with 8,515 diagnoses and 56 deaths, as the number of confirmed cases shot up by more than 2,000 between Thursday and Friday. The sudden leap in cases has been attributed to more people now being tested for the disease.’
Read more: Army to deploy to New York after Trump declares major disaster: Troops to turn hotels and sports arenas into hospitals as lines form outside hospitals, ventilators run low and almost two people an hour die in pandemic in NYC