NEW YORK (TURKISH JOURNAL) – By Janet Ekstract – On Sunday evening at a White House press conference, U.S. President Donald Trump along with the White House Coronavirus Task Force announced new developments to combat COVID-19. There was also an update on the current situation in America. A major highlight of the conference was the announcement of a new test for COVID-19 that is set to launch next week.
A major step to aid in the U.S. crisis includes passing a 1.8 trillion USD emergency relief package that is supposed to financially support workers, small businesses and assist corporations as well as airlines. Included in the plan is a provision that would see the government sending checks to average Americans to offset financial difficulties in the ongoing crisis. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the package is expected to be put to a vote on Monday. McConnell told press: “We’re working toward bringing this together. I think it’s safe to say we’re very close.”
Meanwhile, Trump said that New York, California and the state of Washington have all had disaster declarations signed to receive emergency aid for the virus outbreak. New York has become the epicenter of the coronavirus in America, and worldwide, comprises 5% of positive test results. The newest developments announced by the White House Coronavirus Task Force include a new coronavirus test that shows results in only 45 minutes. Trump also announced that two floating hospitals – The Mercy and The Comfort are being prepared with Mercy being sent to Los Angeles and Comfort being sent to New York City where Trump says it will probably dock in the New York Harbor. The president praised the two hospitals for what he labeled as their state-of-the-art technology and patient capacity.
A second major development is that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be leading the coordination efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. FEMA will be directing the deployment of the National Guard in New York, California and Washington state as well as providing medical stations in those three states as well. Trump said: “The National Guard are fully on alert.” He added that through FEMA the U.S. government will fund the National Guard deployment and that he had been in touch with all three governors of those states.
The largest issue looming over the U.S. is timely delivery of medical supplies and lifesaving machines getting to hospitals to combat the surge of COVID-19 cases. Trump said the federal government is sending a multitude of medical supplies out amidst the natural disaster request approvals for the three states. Among the items being sent, Trump told the press that 448,000 surgical masks were set for delivery by the National Guard as well as thousands more respirators, ventilators, medical uniforms and other necessary equipment to fight the virus.
Despite Trump’s announcement, numerous doctors are reporting hospitals are desperate for supplies amid a worsening pandemic in the U.S. On Monday, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed what many American doctors are saying: “We need hundreds of ventilators, thousands of masks.” The New York mayor said: “In a week, we won’t have enough ventilators to keep people alive, there won’t be enough medical personnel in New York.” He added that if New York doesn’t get all those things ,“our hospital system won’t be able to hold.” De Blasio said that he spoke by phone to President Trump and Vice-President Pence about the dire situation in New York. He explained: “I made it clear to them what I need from them right now is action not words – if we don’t get the ventilators we need, we will lose lives that could have been saved.”
Meanwhile, on Monday, a number of top medical officials and doctors weighed in on the situation in interviews on CNN. Dr. Megan Ranney, an Emergency Physician Lifespan/ at Brown University said that she hoped that the medical equipment gets to the other states not just the three major ones. Ranney said: “The numbers are much higher than we are reporting,” referring to the number of coronavirus cases. She added that because there is a two-week incubation period for the virus, she’s worried that if stay-at-home restrictions are lifted in two weeks, there will be a spike in cases. Ranney explained that leaving a window of 4-8 weeks would most likely cut in half the risks of contracting the virus.
In addition, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta echoed the New York mayor as he also commented that equipment is “running out.” Gupta said: “Any patient that comes in, could potentially be a COVID patient, that means personal, protective equipment for every patient,” will be needed. To that end, The Chief of The Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Rochelle Walensky reiterated that “we’re in this for the long haul.” She said: “We need hospitals to have beds, ventilators, respirators, that coordination has to happen.” Walensky emphasized: “Many people are presenting with high fever and cough and we’re just behind in the volume and we see that volume increase week to week.”
An Emergency Physician in Massachusetts, Dr. Josh Lerner said his health facility is tryıng to conserve the most advanced N-95 masks as much as possıble. Lerner said: “We need five or six masks for one patient in the ER at one time. Many doctors mentioned they are having to reuse masks and the majority agree that its become an untenable situation that puts numerous healthcare workers at major risk of contracting COVID-19. In addition, The Chief Executive of Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey, Dr. Daniel Varga said the four most crucial areas of need are testing, masks and supplies, making sure the supply chain is operating efficiently and staffing. Varga told CNN on Monday that their New Jersey university hospital said: “We have 3-5 days of N-95 masks.” Varga added that at Hackensack University Medical Center they are creating new ICU units out of preexisting space in order to make room for a major influx of patients.
In the meantime, the most prominent authority, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who is also an immunologist, has done his utmost to get the facts out about the coronavirus. In a brief interview with Science Magazine that was published on March 23, Dr. Fauci was asked how he felt about listening to misrepresentations by the president. Fauci replied: “ I can’t jump in front of the microphone to push him down. Ok. Let’s get it correct next time.” CNN’s National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem said the National Guard should be extended to all 50 states to relieve stress on public safety and public health. Kayyem says the president needs to pass the Federal Defense Production Act. She said: “Why the president isn’t moving forward , this is just prioritizing the production schedule. Kayyem said it should have been done two months ago and added: “The president is talking about the act but he isn’t using it yet.”
In the meantime, the president lauded large corporations like Honeywell and 3M for being proactive in the fight against the virus by offering to produce necessary items for the medical community such as surgical masks and other equipment. Cisco’s CEO spoke to CNN on Monday and said that his company has donated 8 million dollars and has volunteered to step in and produce various medical items as well.
In spite of some excellent news about corporations stepping in to assist, the specter of a major shortage of medical equipment and supplies hangs over the U.S. and especially New York, California and the state of Washington. Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer explained: “We need the government to get us the kits, give us direction.” New York City’s Mayor de Blasio said: “We’re 10 days away from running out of everything.” CNN Host of the show First Move, Julia Chatterley said: “This is so unique, we have put the economy into an effective coma for an indeterminate time. We have to get over the politics here and stablize the system.” So far, Congress has ended up in a stalemate on a 1.8 million dollar stimulus package that Americans so sorely need. America hinges on the hope that Democrats and Republicans will sign the package into law within the week. Former Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson reiterated “We’re still very very much in the depths of this crisis right now.” Johnson explained that numbers of those who tested positive coming out of China can’t be trusted and he added that the president and vice-president keep saying things are great “when they’re not,” he said. As CNN’s Chatterley said Monday: “Get this money to people and limit the damage but there will be damage.”
Currently, there are over 329,000 people worldwide with the virus as well as U.S. senators who have recently tested positive for COVID-19. As President Trump commented about the coronavirus: “I call it the hidden enemy.”