New York's governor issued an urgent appeal for medical volunteers Monday amid a "staggering" number of deaths from the coronavirus, as he and health officials warned that the crisis unfolding in New York City is just a preview of what other communities across the US could soon face.
"Please come help us in New York now," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as the state's death toll climbed by more than 250 in a single day to a total of more than 1,200 victims, most of them in the city. He said an additional 1 million health care workers are needed to tackle the crisis.
"We've lost over 1,000 New Yorkers," Cuomo said. "To me, we're beyond staggering already. We've reached staggering."
Even before the governor's appeal, close to 80,000 former nurses, doctors and other professionals in New York were stepping up to volunteer, and a Navy hospital ship, also sent to the city after 9/11, had arrived with 1,000 beds to relieve pressure on overwhelmed hospitals.
"Whatever it is that they need, I'm willing to do," said Jerry Kops, a musician and former nurse whose tour with the show Blue Man Group was abruptly halted by the outbreak.
He returned to his Long Island home, where he volunteered to be a nurse again. While waiting to be reinstated, Kops has been helping at an assisted-living home near his house in Shirley, NY
The spike in deaths in New York was another sign of the long fight ahead against the global pandemic, which was filling Spain's intensive care beds and shutting millions of Americans inside even as the crisis in China, where the outbreak began in December, kept easing.
More than 235 million people — about two of every three Americans — live in the 33 states where governors have declared statewide orders or recommendations to stay home.
In California, officials put out a similar call for medical volunteers as coronavirus hospitalizations doubled over the last four days and the number of patients in intensive care tripled.
"Challenging times are ahead for the next 30 days, and this is a very vital 30 days," President Donald Trump told reporters. "The more we dedicate ourselves today, the more quickly we will emerge on the other side of the crisis."
In Europe, meanwhile, hard-hit Italy and Spain saw their death tolls climb by more than 800 each, but the World Health Organization's emergency chief said cases there were "potentially stabilizing." At the same time, he warned against letting up on tough containment measures.
"We have to now push the virus down, and that will not happen by itself," Dr Michael Ryan said.
More than three-quarters of a million people worldwide have become infected and over 37,000 have died, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.
The US reported more than 160,000 infections and over 3,000 deaths, with New York City the nation's worst hot spot, and New Orleans, Detroit and other cities also seeing alarming clusters.
"Anyone who says this situation is a New York City-only situation is in a state of denial," Cuomo said. "You see this virus move across the state. You see this virus move across the nation. There is no American who is immune to this virus."
Some hospitals are now parking refrigerated trailers outside their doors to collect the dead. At two Brooklyn hospitals, videos posted by bystanders and a medical employee showed workers in masks and gowns loading bodies onto trailers from gurneys on the sidewalk.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government's top infectious-disease expert, similarly warned that smaller cities are likely about to see cases "take off" the way they have in New York City.
"What we've learned from painful experience with this outbreak is that it goes along almost on a straight line, then a little acceleration, acceleration, then it goes way up," he said on ABC's "Good Morning America."