A man wears a medical mask on the subway to confront the coronavirus outbreak in New York City. File/AFP
Doctors and nurses on the front lines of the US coronavirus crisis pleaded on Friday for more protective gear and equipment to treat waves of patients expected to overwhelm hospitals as the sum of known US infections climbed well past 100,000, with more than 1,600 dead.
Physicians have called particular attention to a desperate need for additional ventilators, machines that help patients breathe and are widely needed for those suffering from COVID-19, the respiratory ailment caused by the highly contagious novel coronavirus.
Hospitals in New York City, New Orleans, Detroit and other virus hot spots have also sounded the alarm about scarcities of drugs, medical supplies and trained staff while the number of confirmed US cases rose by about 18,000 on Friday, the highest jump in a single day, to more than 103,000.
That tally kept the United States as the world leader in the number of known infections, having surpassed China and Italy on Thursday.
"We are scared," said Dr. Arabia Mollette of Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn. "We're trying to fight for everyone else's life, but we also fight for our lives as well, because we're also at the highest risk of exposure."
The United States ranked sixth in death toll among the hardest hit countries, with at least 1,632 lives lost as of Friday night, a record daily increase of 370 according to a Reuters tabulation of official data. Worldwide, confirmed cases rose above 593,000 with 27,198 deaths, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported.
Even as hospital patient numbers steadily climbed, shortages of key medical supplies abounded.
One emergency room doctor in Michigan, an emerging epicenter of the pandemic, said he was using one paper face mask for an entire shift due to a shortage and that hospitals in the Detroit area would soon run out of ventilators.
"We have hospital systems here in the Detroit area in Michigan who are getting to the end of their supply of ventilators and have to start telling families that they can't save their loved ones because they don't have enough equipment," the physician, Dr. Rob Davidson, said in a video posted on Twitter.
With limited testing available, US officials have recorded nearly 3,000 cases. Globally more than 162,000 are infected and over 6,000 have died.
As health officials issued warnings on Tuesday against reopening economies too quickly, the coronavirus struck inside some of the world’s superpowers, with a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin diagnosed just days after US Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary also tested positive.
With the disease tearing around the globe and three billion people locked down, countries are desperate to find ways to stop its terrifying spread and deal with a shock that could surpass the Great Depression.
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