New York/Los Angeles: The governor of New York on Wednesday cracked down even harder on public gatherings in the face of the coronavirus, calling residents who disregarded stay-at-home rules “selfish” as California’s governor warned his state will run out of hospital beds by next month.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told New York City police to more aggressively enforce rules for social distancing as deaths in the state shot up to nearly 2,000.
“Young people must get this message, and they still have not gotten the message, you still see too many situations with too much density by young people,” said Cuomo, who said models showed the outbreak worsening until the end of April.
Cuomo said he was closing playgrounds, swing sets, basketball courts and similar spaces, while open spaces in parks would remain open for now.
He sounded vexed by reports of crowds gathering at a Manhattan pier to watch the arrival of the US Navy hospital ship, the Comfort.
“How reckless and irresponsible and selfish for people not to do it on their own,” Cuomo said.
All told 4,529 people have died across the United States from COVID-19 so far, according to a Reuters tally, with more than 205,000 cases reported.
White House medical experts have forecast that even with strict observance of stay-at-home orders imposed in 36 states and the District of Columbia, some 100,000 to 240,000 people could die from the respiratory disease.
Since 2010, the flu has killed between 12,000 and 61,000 Americans a year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 1918-1919 flu pandemic killed 675,000 in the United States, according to the CDC.
While New York remains the center of the pandemic, states across the country experienced a surge of cases, including California, Michigan, Florida, and New Jersey.
‘Nobody is safe’
Even with signs that strict stay-at-home rules are slowing the outbreak, and the Comfort’s sister ship, the USNS Mercy, parked off Los Angeles, California Governor Gavin Newsom warned the state would run out of hospital beds within six weeks.
“We are in a completely different place than the state of New York and I hope we will continue to be but we won’t unless people continue to practice physical distancing and do their part,” Newsom said at a news conference in Sacramento.
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced what he called a tragic milestone as the virus claimed its youngest victim to date, a six-week-old baby.
“It just is a reminder that nobody is safe from this virus,” Lamont said at a field house at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, where more than 200 hospital beds have been set up to handle an expected surge of COVID-19 patients.
With rent and mortgage payments due on Wednesday, the first day of the month, Americans unable to work during the pandemic struggled to make ends meet and talked of uncertainty in the weeks ahead.
Alfa Cristina Morales, 21, lost her job cooking at an Oakland, California, coffee shop, along with her health insurance, three weeks ago.
Morales said she had been forced to use money she had saved for a US citizenship application to pay bills, including her April rent. She has applied for unemployment benefits to support herself and her two-year-old son, but that money could take weeks to arrive.
“We’re worried that it won’t be enough,” she said.
Florida orders stay at home
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis said he would sign an executive order limiting all but essential services for 30 days starting on Thursday night to try to slow the spread of the respiratory illness.
Florida and US officials were working on a plan to let thousands of cruise ship passengers exposed to an onboard coronavirus outbreak disembark, a day after President Donald Trump urged DeSantis to drop his opposition.
One of the two Dutch cruise ships is Holland America Line’s MS Zaandam. Nearly two-thirds of its passengers, those who passed a medical screening, were moved to the line’s sister ship, the Rotterdam.
Both vessels were on the way to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, the Zaandam carrying nearly 1,050 passengers and crew, and the Rotterdam almost 1,450.
“I would beg (DeSantis) and everybody who has the power to make this happen that we need to look at the humanity of what’s going on right now. There needs to be compassion for these people,” Jennifer Allen, whose elderly parents were sick on board the Zaandam, told NBC’s “Today” show.
DeSantis said he understood many of the passengers were foreign nationals.
“Of course my concern is simply that we have worked so hard to make sure we have adequate hospital space in the case of a COVID-19 surge that we wouldn’t want those valuable beds to be taken because of the cruise ship,” DeSantis said.