Doctors appeal for more supplies as US coronavirus cases jump past 13,000

Coronavirus
Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 19: A pedestrian walks past a shuttered movie theater, with the message ‘Stay Safe and Healthy’ displayed on the marquee, on March 19, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide ‘stay at home’ order for California’s 40 million residents except for ‘necessary activities’ in the hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(CNN) — As California directs residents statewide to stay home as part of the country’s most sweeping effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, physicians nationwide are intensifying this warning: Vital supplies need replenishing soon.

The nation also is grappling with the economic consequences of encouraging people to stay home. While federal lawmakers on Friday consider a stimulus bill that may give checks to some Americans, Goldman Sachs economists are predicting the number of US unemployment claims this week will be the highest on record.

As thousands more Americans get tested, the number of reported coronavirus cases has climbed to more than 13,000. At least 195 people in the US have died.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday night told the state’s nearly 40 million residents to generally stay at home,with a few exceptions. The order will last until “further notice,” the governor’s office said. The state has had at least 995 coronavirus cases and 19 deaths.

The order won’t be enforced by police, Newsom said, but instead, by social pressure that will “encourage people to do the right thing.”

“Every state will head this way,” CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem said Friday morning. “People need to prepare themselves that this gets harder before this gets easier.”

Spurring the order, Newsom said, were models showing that the virus could sicken 25 million of California’s nearly 40 million people in eight weeks. That could require the hospitalization of more than 19,000 people beyond the state’s current capacity, he said.

Doctors and state and local politicians nationwide are warning that hospitals do not have sufficient supplies of masks, ventilators and other equipment needed to protect physicians and help patients.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Thursday that his city’s hospitals were two to three weeks away from running out of critical supplies, with 3 million more N95 masks and 15,000 ventilators needed.

“Where the hell is the federal government?” de Blasio said to CNN on Friday. “If the President would just act, there’s still time to save us and a lot of other people in the country.”

While companies have indicated they’re ramping up production, President Donald Trump on Thursday cautioned that the “federal government’s not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping.”

But states and hospitals can’t successfully procure all that’s needed by themselves, said Dr. Megan Ranney, a Rhode Island emergency physician and researcher at Brown University.

“That would be like saying that you’re sending your troops to war and that you’re letting them get their own body armor and helmets,” she said Friday morning. “We need the federal government to stand up a response to distribute this appropriately.”

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing drugs such as the antimalarial chloroquine as potential treatments, one of the country’s top health officials says he thinks Americans should avoid crowds for several more weeks.

“If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks in other areas, it’s at least going to be several weeks,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC’s “Today” show on Friday.

Other leaders resist similar statewide orders

San Francisco paved the way for orders directing residents to stay put. Throughout California, similar directives went into effect by multiple counties this week, leading to the governor’s sweeping measures.

The orders still allow residents to step outside — as long as they are practicing social distancing — as well as take care of essential needs like grocery shopping, getting gas and picking up medications.

Meanwhile, in New York — where at least 5,298 people have tested positive for the virus and 32 have died — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has refrained from issuing similar orders but has encouraged residents to stay home.

“We are at near panic levels, so what you say and how you communicate is very important,” he told CNN Thursday. “Should everybody stay at home? Of course. Are we imprisoning people? No.”

The remarks came days after de Blasio, the New York City mayor, told residents to prepare for a shelter-in-place order.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also announced Thursday he wasn’t issuing a statewide mandatory quarantine or ordering businesses to close.

“To stop the spread of coronavirus, we must follow the guidance from federal and state health organizations and leaders: regularly wash your hands, practice social distancing, protect the elderly and chronically ill, and stay home, especially if you are sick,” Kemp said.

The governor said Thursday he was encouraged by news coming out of the White House that “vaccine development and anti-viral therapies are moving quicker than I originally expected.”

Economists predict 2.25 million in US filed initial unemployment claims this week

The country is only just beginning to understand the economic consequences of the pandemic.

Although a government report showed 281,000 Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week — a 33% jump over the week before — economists are predicting the next weekly report will be much worse.

Goldman Sachs economists predict next week’s report will show 2.25 million Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits this week — eight times the number of people who filed last week and the highest level on record.

Medical supply shortages loom as more tests return positive

Health care facilities that are facing a “crisis” should consider options to combat shortages, even if those options “are not commensurate with US standards of care,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in new guidance.

That includes using masks beyond their designated shelf life and reusing masks during encounters with different patients, cautioning however that not all types of masks can be reused.

As a last resort, the agency said health care providers could consider using “homemade masks” — such as bandanas or scarves — to care for coronavirus patients, ideally in combination with a face shield.

The guidance comes as hospitals and medical care workers have begun to sound the alarm on a rapidly vanishing inventory of supplies.

Governors highlighted those concerns Thursday to the President, many saying their main worry was that there isn’t enough personal protection equipment available in their states — like masks, disposable gowns and other supplies.

Trump responded that states should be working to get whatever equipment they need on their own and the federal government would help if it could.

“Try what you can — do the best you can to get what you can actually get,” Trump said.

Worries remain on looming shortages as health officials maintain the number of known coronavirus cases will continue to dramatically increase as more test results return.

“The number of test positives are increasing,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. “That is a dramatically important signature that everyone is doing their job.”

Just in New York, Cuomo said Thursday morning 8,000 tests were done overnight.

“When you do 8,000 tests,” the governor said, “the numbers are going to go up exponentially.”

De Blasio said the city will need the federal government’s help in getting enough supplies to respond to those numbers.

“I said very clearly that for the month of March, we have the supplies that we need, the city has very strong reserves of the kind of supplies that I talked about,” he said. “It is going into April that I’m worried about. I don’t have the perfect day for you, we’re assessing all the time but it is a day, two weeks from now or three weeks from now where we must, by then, have had a very substantial resupply.”

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