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NY, New Orleans hospitals reel as U.S. virus deaths top 1,000

Video Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 26, 2020 - Duration: 02:35s

NY, New Orleans hospitals reel as U.S. virus deaths top 1,000

As the coronavirus pandemic's U.S. death toll raced past 1,000 people, hospitals and government authorities in New York, New Orleans and other hot spots grappled on Thursday with a surge in cases and a dire shortage of supplies, staff and sick beds.

This report produced by Chris Dignam.

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NY, New Orleans hospitals reel as U.S. virus deaths top 1,000

The number of deaths from the coronavirus in the United States shot past 1,000 on Thursday, as hospitals across the country struggled to treat a surge of patients.

Leading the nation in both deaths and infections is New York, where Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has been sounding the alarm about an expected shortage of hospital beds and ventilators, said on Thursday that the state's death toll jumped by 100 overnight.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR, ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING: "The number of deaths is at 385.

It's up from 285.

And since we still have a large number of people on ventilators for a long period of time, the experts expect that number to continue to increase." New Yorkers on Thursday continued to line up outside the emergency room entrance of Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, waiting to be screened for the coronavirus.

Outside Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, workers constructed a makeshift morgue to house an expected surge in bodies.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR, ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING: "Almost any scenario that is realistic will overwhelm the capacity of the current health care system." The country's next epicenter is likely to be New Orleans, which recorded the world's highest growth rate in coronavirus cases.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) LOUISIANA GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS, SAYING: "The problem isn't just that cases are growing every day.

It is that they're growing rapidly every day." Some medical experts blame the spike in cases on last month's Mardi Gras, which provided the perfect conditions for the spread of this virus.

The deteriorating situation in New Orleans dashed hopes that less densely populated cities and those in warmer climates might escape the worst of the pandemic.

Local authorities have warned that hospitals in New Orleans could reach the point of collapse by April 4.

Meanwhile, the total number of coronavirus cases worldwide has surged past half a million people.

A leading group of scientists said on Thursday that the world faces "a severe and acute" emergency due to the coronavirus and predicted that - no matter the scenario - "health systems in all countries will be quickly overwhelmed." And in a sign of how far and wide the virus has spread outside China, where COVID-19 first emerged, Beijing will temporarily ban all foreign nationals from entering the country, even if they have valid visas and residence permits - a move aimed at preventing a virus resurgence in the country.

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