The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 300,000 on Saturday, an increase of more than 32,000 from the day before, as the pandemic continued exact a grim toll on the nation.
Total U.S. cases reached 300,846, and the number of deaths was at least 8,160.
New York City alone accounted for more than a quarter of the U.S. coronavirus deaths. New York state recorded 630 deaths in the past 24 hours, the biggest one-day toll there yet, taking the total fatalities to 3,565.
‘It is like a fire spreading,’ New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, of the alarming spread of the virus from the New York City epicenter. ‘The fire, it doesn’t max out in one place, but it consumes where it is and it’s moving out.’
Michigan now has more cases than California, with 12,744 in Michigan and 12,603 in California. Outside of New York City, Detroit is the metro area with the highest death toll, with 223 dead in Wayne County.
A medic of the Elmhurst Hospital Center medical team reacts after stepping outside of the emergency room on Saturday in Queens, New York City
In Detroit, the TCF convention center has been converted into a field hospital. Detroit now has the most deaths of any US metro area other than New York City
White House medical experts have forecast that between 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could be killed in the pandemic, even if sweeping orders to stay home are followed.
In New York City, hospitals and morgues are struggling to treat the desperately ill and bury the dead.
Crematories have extended their hours and burned bodies into the night, with corpses piling up so quickly that city officials were looking elsewhere in the state for temporary interment sites.
Because of the risk of infection, many people with critically ill relatives in New York City are unable to see their loved ones in their final hours.
A resident at New York-Presbyterian hospital said he and his colleagues have made several death notification phone calls every shift this week.
‘There’s something sort of unquantifiably painful about telling a family their loved one died without letting them see them,’ he said.
An emergency stockpile of medical equipment maintained by the U.S. government has nearly run out of protective garb for doctors and nurses.
Emergency responders in protective gears disinfect themselves at the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center nursing home, where many residents and employees has been infected with coronavirus disease, in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday
Volunteers direct vehicles that made their way to the parking lot at Reagan Early College High School in northeast Austin, Texas to pick up to a 30-pound box of food Saturday
Almost all Americans are under orders from state and local officials to stay home except for essential outings such as grocery shopping or seeing a doctor.
Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota are now the only states that do not have either major city or statewide stay-at-home orders in place.
Areas of the country such as Florida and Texas that had been slow to lock down have started practicing social distancing and sheltering at home.
‘We see what’s going on in New York now, we see that people are dying,’ Rick Scott, a U.S. senator from Florida, told Fox News Channel.
‘People are beginning to understand that the best way that we can slow the spread and actually avoid death is by this stay-at-home standard, going out only for essential services,’ Texas governor Greg Abbott told the channel. He was among the last governors to issue a statewide order telling residents to avoid leaving their home.
There were still some hold-outs elsewhere, though.
Louisiana pastor Tony Spell said he plans to hold three services at his 1,000-member Life Tabernacle megachurch in a suburb of Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Palm Sunday this weekend, defying state orders against assembling in large groups.
‘We’re defying the rules because the commandment of God is to spread the Gospel,’ he told Reuters.
Louisiana pastor Tony Spell said he plans to hold three services at his 1,000-member Life Tabernacle megachurch in a suburb of Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Palm Sunday
Congregants leave after an evening service at Life Tabernacle Church in Louisiana on Tuesday. Pastor Tony Spell held the service despite facing misdemeanor charges
Louisiana has become a U.S. hot spot for the virus, on Saturday reporting a jump in deaths to 409.
The Gulf state’s largest city, New Orleans, where Mardi Gras celebrations in late February are believed to have helped spread the virus before social distancing orders were imposed, has become a focal point of the health crisis.
Patients in New Orleans are dying at twice the rate per capita as in New York.
Louisiana Governor John Edwards said he spoke with Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday – and that he had been promised an additional 200 ventilators from the national stockpile.
In New York, Governor Cuomo said that new cases are still rising at an alarming rate, with New York’s apex, or the peak in the number of new daily cases, likely about a week away.
‘By the numbers, we’re not yet at the apex. We’re getting closer depending whose model you’re looking at,’ said Cuomo. ‘We’re somewhere in the seven day range.’
The Manhattan skyline stands in the distance as people try to get some time outside in Brooklyn on Saturday in New York City
Meanwhile, the Chinese government helped facilitate a donation of 1,000 ventilators that will arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport today, Cuomo said.
The donation was funded by Jack Ma and Joe Tsai, the Chinese billionaires who co-founded internet retail giant Alibaba.
‘This is a big deal and it’s going to make a significant difference for us,’ Cuomo said, adding that the state of Oregon is also sending 140 ventilators to New York.
Cuomo is also looking for ventilators closer to home, and has issued an order that forces even private hospitals in the state to redistribute ventilators to the hospitals most in need.
‘I want this all to be over,’ Cuomo said. ‘It’s only gone on for 30 days since our first case. It feels like an entire lifetime.’
The number of people infected in the U.S. has exceeded a quarter-million, with the death toll climbing past 7,000. More than half of the deaths are in New York state.
While New York City remain’s the state’s biggest hotspot, cases are growing at an alarming rate on Long Island, where many wealthy city dwellers have fled during the crisis.
Long Island’s share of the state’s total hospitalized cases had increased to 22 percent on Friday, up from just 17 percent on March 26.
‘Long island is the area that is growing,’ said Cuomo. ‘New York City is actually dropping…as a percentage of cases within the state.’
A member of the medical staff takes break outside Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn on Saturday. New York state’s coronavirus toll rose at a devastating pace to 3,565 deaths Saturday
EMTs take a coronavirus patient to the hospital at Queens Mount Sinai Hospital on Friday
Funeral home workers arrive to pick up a body Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn on Saturday
Cuomo also announced that he will sign an executive order to allow medical students who were slated to graduate this spring to begin practicing now. ‘These are extraordinary times and New York needs the help,’ he said.
As well, the governor praised the 85,000 medical workers who have volunteered their service to fight against the virus, with 22,000 traveling from out of state to work in the epicenter. ‘How amazing is that,’ Cuomo said.
Praising Oregon for lending New York 140 ventilators, the crucial medical equipment needed to care for the most severe cases, Cuomo quoted former President Franklin Roosevelt’s remarks about the Lend Lease Act to help the U.K. in the darkest days of World War II.
‘Suppose my neighbor’s home catches fire & I have a length of garden hose. If he can take my garden hose, I may help him put out his fire. I don’t say to him ‘Neighbor, you have to pay me $15 for it.’ I don’t want $15. I want my garden hose back after the fire is over,’ Coumo said, quoting Roosevelt, and vowing to repay Oregon with double the number of ventilators when the crisis in New York subsides.
‘We’re all in the same battle here, and the battle is stopping the spread of the virus,’ said Cuomo.
A view of the skyline from Central Park in New York City on Saturday. New York City is still considered the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States