As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in America exceeds 100,000, a number of major cities are emerging as worrying potential hotspots.
While New York remained the worst hit city in the U.S., Americans braced for worsening conditions elsewhere, with worrisome infection numbers being reported in New Orleans, Chicago and Boston.
Dr. John Brooks of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that Americans remained ‘in the acceleration phase’ of the pandemic and that all corners of the country were at risk.
‘There is no geographic part of the United States that is spared from this,’ he said.
Los Angeles: Retired nurse Donna holds an American flag as she waves toward the USNS Mercy Navy hospital ship after it arrived in the Port of Los Angeles on Friday
In the nation’s second-largest city, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said cases were spiking, putting the Southern California region on track to match New York City’s infection figures in the next five days.
The mayor spoke as he and California’s governor, who ordered all coronavirus-related evictions banned through May 31, toured a newly arrived naval hospital ship equipped with 1,000 patient beds at the Port of Los Angeles. Its sister vessel is to be deployed to New York Harbor in the near future.
At the Riverside County Fairground east of Los Angeles, California National Guard troops were setting up a 125-bed medical station to serve residents of the Coachella Valley, an area teeming with elderly retirees considered especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
Outside of New York City, Seattle has the highest number of confirmed cases, with 2,747.
The Seattle metro area was the earliest hotspot in the U.S., and the number of cases has continued to grow there at an alarming rate.
Seattle: A cyclist passes a closed shop during the coronavirus outbreak on Friday
Detroit: Examination tents are setup at the Michigan State Fairgrounds on Friday in Detroit, where the city is preparing for coronavirus drive up testing
Boston: Cars are gestured forward as medical personnel from AFC Urgent Care perform Covid-19 testing in the parking lot of their location in North Andover, Massachusetts on Friday
The next-largest outbreaks are Detroit (2,622 cases), Boston (2,227 cases) and Chicago (1,862 cases).
One emergency room doctor in Michigan, an emerging epicenter of the pandemic, said he was using one paper face mask for an entire shift due to a shortage and that hospitals in the Detroit area would soon run out of ventilators.
‘We have hospital systems here in the Detroit area in Michigan who are getting to the end of their supply of ventilators and have to start telling families that they can’t save their loved ones because they don’t have enough equipment,’ the physician, Dr. Rob Davidson, said in a video posted on Twitter.
The U.S. military is watching coronavirus infection trends in Chicago, Michigan, Florida and Louisiana with concern.
Chicago: A barricade prevents cars from driving to Navy Pier on Friday. Upset by residents continuing to gather at the lakefront and nearby parks despite the governor’s stay-at-home order, yesterday Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued an executive order closing the lakefront
Air Force General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military was doing its own analysis as well as looking at data on infections compiled elsewhere in the government.
‘There’s a certain number of places where we have concerns and they’re: Chicago, Michigan, Florida, Louisiana,’ Hyten told a group of reporters, when asked where field hospitals could head next.
‘Those are the areas that we’re looking at and trying to figure out where to go next.’
The Army Corps of Engineers said on Friday it was aiming to provide facilities for 3,000 people with the coronavirus at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center by April 24 for about $75 million.
Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, the Corps’ commander, said the Corps was looking at potentially converting 114 facilities in the United States into hospitals.
New Orleans: The normally bustling tourist mecca of Bourbon Street lies deserted in the early afternoon during shelter in place orders to slow the spread of coronavirus
Asked about Hyten’s remarks, Semonite said he continued to be concerned about Michigan, Florida and Louisiana and had spoken with the governor of Louisiana. He said there could be a high demand for medical resources in Florida because of the aging population.
Louisiana has seen the fastest growth of new cases anywhere in the world, which local officials say may be due to last month’s crowded Mardi Gras celebrations.
Sophia Thomas, a nurse practitioner at DePaul Community Health Center in New Orleans, said the numbers of coronavirus patients ‘have been staggering.’
‘We are truly a hotbed of COVID-19 here in New Orleans,’ she said, adding that her hospital was trying to cope in part by shifting some patients to ‘telehealth’ services that allow them to be evaluated from home.
‘We are not through this. We´re not even halfway through this,’ said Joseph Kanter of the Louisiana Department of Health, which has recorded more than 2,700 cases, more than five times what it had a week ago. The United States became the first country to surpass 100,000 infections on Friday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
New Orleans’ sprawling Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, along the Mississippi River, was being converted into a massive hospital as officials prepared for thousands more patients than they could accommodate.
The preparations immediately conjured images of another disaster, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when the convention center became a squalid shelter of last resort.
As the new health crisis loomed, economic catastrophe had already arrived in the city, where many already live in poverty and the all-important tourism industry has screeched to a halt.
‘I’ve never been unemployed. But now, all of a sudden: Wop!’ said John Moore, the musician best known as Deacon John, who has no gigs to perform with much of the city shut down. ‘It ain’t just me. It´s everybody.’
However as yet, no city is close to overtaking New York City, where on Friday total cases hit 25,573 deaths reached 366, and hospitals throughout the city reported being strained to the limit with critical patients.
At a press conference on Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he believes the city’s strained healthcare system has the personnel and supplies to make it through next week, but beyond that is uncertain.
‘After next Sunday, April 5, is when I get very, very worried about everything we’re gonna need,’ he said, saying that an infusion of medical staff and equipment was needed to stave of disaster.