New York to shut down as it becomes next virus hot spot
Rev. Micah Muhlen, OFM, prays prior to a modest and shortened service at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Basilica, attended by very few parishioners due to the coronavirus Sunday, March 22, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Due to the coronavirus, a parishioner prays during a modest and shortened service at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Basilica Sunday, March 22, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Pope Francis delivers his blessing from the window of his private library overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, March 22, 2020. During his weekly Sunday blessing, held due to virus concerns in his private library in the Apostolic Palace, he urged all Christians to join in reciting the ‘’Our Father’’ prayer next Wednesday at noon. And he said that he would lead a global blessing to an empty St. Peter’s Square on Friday. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people...
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, talks with members of the Florida National Guard, Sunday, March 22, 2020, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. DeSantis held a news conference at the stadium where the National Guard opened a drive-thru testing site. On Sunday, they were only testing first responders. On Monday, they planned to expand it to people at least 65 years old who are showing symptoms of the illness. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Parish vicar Patrick Stauss conducts a service of the catholic parish of the Assumption of Mary via YouYube in an empty church in Winterbach, Germany, Sunday, March 22, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (Sebastian Gollnow/dpa via AP)
Japan's Princess Aiko, daughter of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, wearing a protective face mask following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), waves to well-wishers as she attends her graduation ceremony at Gakushuin Girls' Senior High School in Tokyo, Sunday, March 22, 2020. (Issei Kato/Pool Photo via AP)
A woman wearing a face mask against the coronavirus walks along on a nearly empty shopping street in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, March 22, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A municipal tanker sprays disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus outbreak in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, March 22, 2020. Lebanon has been taking strict measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus closing restaurants and nightclubs as well as schools and universities. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
In this photo provided by Comunidad de Madrid, beds for COVID-19 patients are placed at IFEMA convention center in Madrid, Spain on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Spanish health authorities have acknowledged that some intensive care units in the hardest-hit areas are close to their limit. The army was building a field hospital with 5,500 beds in a convention center in Madrid, where hotels are also being turned into wards for virus patients without serious breathing problems. (Comunidad de Madrid via AP)
Wreaths for the Westminster terrorist attack are seen placed in the courtyard of Westminster Abbey that is closed due to the coronavirus in London, Sunday, March 22, 2020. On 22 March 22, 2017, a terrorist attack took place outside the Palace of Westminster in London. For some people the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, but for some it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A woman attends a Sunday mass service at the Nairobi Baptist Church, which was streamed live on the internet with almost no attendees in order to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, in the capital Nairobi, Kenya Sunday, March 22, 2020. In Kenya, the Ministry of Health has banned all public gatherings and meetings in order to limit the spread of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 but has permitted normal church services to continue so long as they provide hand sanitizing or washing facilities to attendees. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)
A man wearing a mask walks through a deserted train station in Mumbai, India, Sunday, March 22, 2020. India is Sunday observing a 14-hour "people's curfew" called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in order to stem the rising coronavirus caseload in the country of 1.3 billion. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
Trains are parked at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in Mumbai, India, Sunday, March 22, 2020. India is Sunday observing a 14-hour "people's curfew" called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in order to stem the rising coronavirus caseload in the country of 1.3 billion. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
A padlock is seen on the entrance of a beach at Alimos suburb of Athens, Sunday, March 22, 2020. Schools, restaurants, and other public places are already closed in the Greek capital aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus, but other places like supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations remain open. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
A city police officer checks residents at an open air market in Lille, northern France Sunday, March 22, 2020. French President Emmanuel Macron urged employees to keep working in supermarkets, production sites and other businesses that need to keep running amid stringent restrictions of movement due to the rapid spreading of the new coronavirus in the country. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
A man walks along a road leading to St. Mary Major Basilica, silhouetted in background, in Rome, Sunday, March 22, 2020. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has told the nation he is tightening the lockdown to fight the rampaging spread of coronavirus, shuttind down all production facilities except those that are "necessary, crucial, indispensible to guarantee" the good of the country. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tara...
In this Sunday, March 22, 2020, photo supplied by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, military trucks load onto an Il-76 cargo plane in Chkalovsky military airport outside Moscow, Russia. Nine hulking Il-76 cargo planes are being loaded at the Chkalovsky military airport in Moscow as Russia prepares to send medical personnel and supplies to Italy to help the country's efforts against the coronavirus. The mission include eight mobile medical teams along with medical equipment and aerosol disinfection trucks is to begin Sunday, one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin offered the ai...
The highway along the airport is empty in Frankfurt, Germany, Sunday, March 22, 2020. Due to the coronavirus the aviation industry expects heavy losses. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
| March 22, 2020 12:14 PM
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City's mayor was preparing to order his city behind closed doors in an attempt to slow a pandemic that has swept across the globe and threatened to make the city of 8.5 million one of the world's biggest coronavirus hot spots, as officials worldwide warned of a critical shortage of medical supplies.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also called for getting everything from masks to gowns, as well as doctors and other medical workers to New York City, and asked President Donald Trump to have the U.S. military take over the logistics of making and distributing medical supplies.
“I can’t be blunt enough. If the president doesn’t act, people will die who could have lived otherwise,” de Blasio told NBC's “Meet The Press.”
The top infectious disease expert in the U.S. promised New York City and the other hardest-hit places that critical supplies will not run out.
The medical supplies are about to start pouring in and will be “clearly directed to those hot spots that need it most,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CBS' “Face The Nation.”
But Fauci and other emergency officials did not give hard figures on the number of masks or anything else on their way. New York Gov, Andrew Cuomo urged federal officials to step in quickly as hard-hit states outbid each other for ever scarcer supplies, sometimes doubling or tripling prices.
In Washington, negotiators from Congress and the White House resumed top-level talks on a $1.4 trillion economic rescue package, urged by President Donald Trump to strike a deal to steady a nation upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Trump appeared confident about the nation’s ability to defeat the pandemic soon even as health leaders acknowledged that the U.S. was nowhere near the peak of the outbreak.
Worldwide, more than 316,000 people have been infected and nearly 13,600 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. About 150 countries now have confirmed cases, and deaths have been reported in more than 30 American states.
There were more than 27,000 cases across the U.S. and 375 deaths. New York state accounted for 114 deaths, mostly in New York City, where there were more than 4,400 infections, but officials warned the concentration may be more because of increased testing.
On Sunday, New York passed Washington state, the first U.S. hot spot, in the number of fatal cases. Only China, Italy and Spain have reported more COVID-19 cases than the U.S.
Cuomo spent Saturday scouting places to build makeshift hospitals and told existing hospitals to figure out ways to increase their current beds by at least 50% because predictions from health officials are COVID-19 cases needing advanced medical care will top 100,000 in New York state in the next month or so, which is more than double the current number.
Meanwhile, de Blasio urged New York City to shut down at 5 p.m. Sunday except for essential services and workers.
But with the danger an invisible virus instead of billowing smoke or blowing snow, New Yorkers were still gathering in large groups in parks, playing basketball or having block parties. Similar scenes played out around the country.
Cuomo said he was stunned and offended as he toured the city Saturday and gave local officials a day to figure out a plan whether it be closing parks, closing playgrounds or opening streets, typically teeming with traffic but now quiet, only to pedestrians.
“It's insensitive. It's arrogant. It's self-destructive. It's disrespectful to other people," Cuomo said. “It has to stop and it has to stop now.”
Elsewhere in the world, the coronavirus raged on. Italy and Iran reported soaring new death tolls.
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte went on live TV to announce that he was tightening the country's lockdown. Italy now has more than 59,000 cases and 5,476 deaths.
''We are facing the most serious crisis that the country has experienced since World War II,'' Conte told Italians during a broadcast at midnight.
Iran's supreme leader refused U.S. assistance Sunday to fight the virus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory that it could be made by America. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments came as Iran faces crushing U.S. sanctions over its nuclear actions. Iran says it has 1,685 deaths and 21,638 confirmed cases of the virus — a toll that experts from the World Health Organization say is almost certainly under-reported.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever or coughing. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Some 93,800 people have recovered, mostly in China.
In Croatia, a strong earthquake measuring 5.3 near Zagreb caused the evacuation of hospitals and widespread damage. Health Minister Vili Beros warned people fleeing their homes to avoid congregating in public places.
“Earthquakes are dangerous, but coronavirus is even more so,” Beros said. Seventeen injuries but no deaths were reported.
In the rest of the United States, parts of the country found themselves moving toward the kind of problems seen in New York.
There was a unified message to stay away from large gatherings. Officials called them different things — social distancing, sheltering in place, or in the case of Nashville, Tennessee, a “safer at home” order.
“We’re all in quarantine now. Think about it," Cuomo said.
Enforcement of any of these orders is still up in the air. Most locations simply broke up large gatherings and sent people home because one of the last things health officials wanted was putting people in confined spaces like jails. Many governments were releasing non-violent inmates.
Nearly 40 inmates had been diagnosed as of Saturday with COVID-19 in the New York prison system including the notorious Rikers Island complex and officials warned a huge jump in cases was likely coming.
The world kept shutting down too. The long-haul airline Emirates — a major East-West carrier — said it will suspend all passenger flights beginning Wednesday over the outbreak. Singapore said it will fully shut its borders beginning Tuesday.
Sunday was Mother's Day in Britain and the government had a stark message for millions: Visiting your mother could kill her. Instead of parties, lunch or tea, Prime Minister Boris Johnson implored Britons to call Mom on a video chat.
Doctors in Britain made urgent pleas for more protective equipment as the number of coronavirus patients in U.K. hospitals soared to more than 5,000. Almost 4,000 medical workers signed a letter to the Sunday Times saying front-line staff felt like “cannon fodder.” They warned that medics would die if they did not receive better equipment.
In Spain, Europe’s hardest-hit country after Italy, intensive care units in some areas were close to their limits even before Sunday's new tally of more than 28,500 infections and 1,750 deaths. A field hospital with 5,500 beds was going up in a convention center in Madrid and health officials warned more than 10% of the country's health workers were now infected with coronavirus.
“We can’t just repeat the slogans that we will get through this together," said Dr. German Peces-Barba, a lung specialist at Fundación Jiménez Díaz hospital in Madrid.
But there were some signs of hope. The Chinese city of Wuhan — where the global pandemic was first detected and the first city to be locked down — went a fourth consecutive day on Sunday without reporting any new or suspected cases.
Parks and other public gathering places were reopening in China as people return to work and businesses resumed. However, the country has placed increasing restrictions on those coming from overseas.
Pope Francis again held his weekly Sunday blessing in his private library. He has streamed the last several services since the virus started sweeping through Italy.
’To the virus pandemic, we want to respond with the universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness,’’ the pope said, also asking all Christianity across denominations to join in reciting the ‘’Our Father’’ prayer on Wednesday at noon.
Pope Francis also plans to lead a global blessing to an empty St. Peter’s Square on Friday. The ‘’Urbi et Orbi,’’ blessing is normally reserved for Christmas Day and Easter.
Collins reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press reporters Joseph Wilson in Barcelona; Yanan Wang in Beijing; Antonio Calanni in Milan, Italy; Frances D'Emilio in Rome; Jill Lawless in London; Jon Gambrell in Dubai; Bharatha Malawaraarachchi in Colombo, Sri Lanka; Christine Armario in Bogota, Colombia; Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; researcher Henry Hou in Beijing and other AP reporters around the world contributed to this report.
The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak