U.S. coronavirus death toll passes 3,500

President Donald Trump has been criticised for an initially slow response by the federal government to the now-accelerating pandemic spread.

Updated - March 31, 2020 10:55 pm IST

Published - March 31, 2020 06:52 am IST - Washington, United States

A woman wearing a mask pushes a shopping cart as she crosses a street in Queens on March 30, 2019 in New York City.

A woman wearing a mask pushes a shopping cart as she crosses a street in Queens on March 30, 2019 in New York City.

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 climbed past 3,500 on Tuesday, eclipsing China’s official count. New York was the nation’s deadliest hot spot, with about 1,550 deaths statewide, the majority of them in New York City.

President Donald Trump has been criticised for an initially slow response by the federal government to the now-accelerating pandemic spread. Harrowing scenes from hospitals in New York and elsewhere revealed a health system unprepared with basic supplies such as face masks, as well as life-saving devices like respirators.

New York was the nation’s deadliest hot spot, with about 1,550 deaths, the majority of them in New York City. 

USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds that docked in New York on Monday, was expected to begin accepting non-coronavirus patients on Tuesday. 

A 1,000-bed emergency hospital set up at the Javits Convention Center began taking patients Monday night. And the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center was being transformed into a hospital. 

The crisis became personal for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo with word that his brother was infected. Chris Cuomo tweeted that he suffered fever, chills and shortness of breath but will continue broadcasting from his basement. 

Seeking help

On Monday, the Governor pleaded for help from volunteer medical workers, and close to 80,000 former nurses, doctors and other professionals were already said to be stepping forward. 

New York City sought to bring in 250 out-of-town ambulances and 500 paramedics and emergency medical technicians to help its swamped EMS system. The city’s ambulances are responding to about 6,000 calls a day, or 50% more than average, authorities said. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said a five-day stretch last week was the busiest in the history of the city’s EMS operation. Mr. Trump said U.S. death rate was likely to increase for two weeks.

The Navy’s 1,000-bed  USNS Comfort  arrived in New York Monday as America’s coronavirus epicenter gears up for the peak of the pandemic, with emergency restrictions extended as the national death toll passed 3,000.

The 894 foot-long vessel — which also has space for a dozen operating rooms — was greeted by cheering crowds after departing Norfolk, Virginia on Saturday.

President Trump also said on Monday that the U.S. will send medical equipment for combating the pandemic to Italy and later France and Spain. “We're going to be sending approximately $100 million worth of, of things, of surgical and medical and hospital things to Italy,” he said. 

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