UPDATE: Grim Phase Arrives, Three More Hot-Spot Cities in U.S.

| Washington Examiner

The coronavirus pandemic is set to move into a new, more dangerous phase next week, with three more big cities likely to be afflicted badly, as New York has been.

New York is worse off than anywhere else in the United States, with 44,000 confirmed cases, half of the nationwide total. New York City alone has reported 23,000 cases and 365 deaths. City doctors say the hospitals there face a worse calamity than during the AIDS epidemic or the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

But New York’s mitigation efforts appear to be working as the state’s new cases have begun to level off, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Friday. So, the city had decelerated infections and reached an inflection point, even though the worst is yet to come and the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center has been converted to a temporary hospital in preparation for an influx of patients.

But three other cities face growing crises, Adams said. “We also see hot spots like Detroit, like Chicago, like New Orleans that will have a worse week next week than what they had this week,” he said Friday on CBS This Morning. In each city, cases are increasing by the hundreds every day. Michigan health officials confirmed 2,856 cases as of Thursday, up 564 in 24 hours. By Friday, the case count had jumped to 3,000. Detroit and neighboring Wayne County account for half of all cases in Michigan, according to Fox 2 Detroit.

Chicago officials announced a total of 1,489 coronavirus cases, up from 1,149 Thursday and 950 Wednesday. Chicago hospitals are preparing for an inevitable surge. From Friday, all University of Chicago Medicine health system staff, even those who don’t work with patients, were obliged to wear masks at all times on campus. New Orleans also expects a surge next week. The city accounts for 1,170 of Louisiana's total 2,746 confirmed cases. The death toll in New Orleans has reached 57, half the state total.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell is scouting for overflow sites for hospitals, which are likely to hit capacity by the second week of April.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state is on the same trajectory as Spain and Italy, where hospital systems are overwhelmed and thousands have died of the virus.

"We see that now the places that have been aggressive about staying at home, about keeping under groups of 10 have been successful," Adams said Friday. New Orleans, though, did the opposite. It is thought to have been hit hard because of massive Mardi Gras celebrations, which packed the streets until late February.

Governors and mayors are rushing to increase hospital capacity, particularly of ventilators. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is bracing for far more cases even after imposing a lockdown on his state and has asked the federal government for tens of thousands of ventilators.

President Trump, after downplaying the need for ventilators late Thursday in an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, switched tack and invoked the Defense Production Act authority Friday to direct General Motors Co. to manufacture ventilators, although he later suggested he might not need to use the law after all.

"We cannot afford to lose a single day, particularly over the next 30 to 60 days," he said at a White House briefing Friday evening, adding that the U.S. would produce enough ventilators to export some to countries suffering from the pandemic.

Trump talked to the press after signing a historic $2.3 trillion relief bill aimed at sustaining workers, small businesses, and industries. The legislation included $150 billion in aid to states where revenues have collapsed. Cuomo said the sums were far short of what is needed and warned that he would have to cut services to balance the budget just as the need was exploding. Asked about this Friday, Trump said, "There may be something where we’ll have to help states." READ MORE

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