(CNN) — New York has joined California in ordering all nonessential workers to stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus, a move New Yok Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday is needed to help increasingly strained hospitals.
President Donald Trump also said he invoked the Defense Production Act on Thursday night to address shortages of medical gear and equipment. He’d earlier said he would invoke the measure only in a worst-case scenario.
“We need certain equipment that … states aren’t able to get by themselves … like the masks, like the ventilators,” Trump said early Friday afternoon at the White House.
As thousands more Americans get tested, the number of reported coronavirus cases has climbed to more than 15,500. At least 204 people in the US have died.
For the stay-at-home rules in New York and California, exceptions exist — such as for people traveling to or working at groceries and health care systems — and both states allow for solo outdoor exercise. But the moves by these two states alone mean about 1 in 5 Americans live in a state with general stay-at-home orders.
“This is the most drastic action we can take,” Cuomo, whose state has the most confirmed cases of any state at more than 7,000, said Friday.
“These are not helpful hints. … There will be a civil fine and mandatory closure for any business that is not in compliance.
Cuomo described the measures as an attempt to “close the valve” of sick patients to hospitals because the increasing number of cases “portends a total overwhelming of our” health care system.
This comes after Cuomo three days ago asked workplaces to cut their at-work populations to 50%, then on Thursday to 75% on Thursday. The governor also said:
• He will stop evictions of residential or commercial tenants for 90 days.
• Essential businesses, which are exempt, includes mass transit because “we have to get the essential workforce to work.”
• People 70 and older, or people with underlying health issues, should “remain indoors to the greatest extent.”
Echoing other state and local leaders, Cuomo pleaded with businesses to manufacture or otherwise donate more equipment, such as masks for health care workers and ventilators for the sick.
Cuomo’s announcement comes a day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced similar measures for the nation’s most populous state.
“Every state will head this way,” CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem said Friday morning. “People need to prepare themselves that this gets harder before this gets easier.”
The nation also is grappling with the economic consequences of encouraging people to stay home. While federal lawmakers on Friday consider a stimulus bill that may give checks to some Americans, Goldman Sachs economists are predicting the number of US unemployment claims this week will be the highest on record.
Hospitals desperately need more supplies, doctors and politicians say
Doctors and state and local politicians nationwide, meanwhile, are warning that hospitals do not have sufficient supplies of masks, ventilators and other equipment needed to protect physicians and help patients.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Thursday that his city’s hospitals were two to three weeks away from running out of critical supplies, with 3 million more N95 masks and 15,000 ventilators needed.
“Where the hell is the federal government?” de Blasio told CNN on Friday, before Trump announced he invoked the Defense Production Act. “If the President would just act, there’s still time to save us and a lot of other people in the country.”
Details about how precisely the Defense Production Act will be used weren’t immediately available. While companies have indicated they’re ramping up production, Trump on Thursday cautioned that the “federal government’s not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping.”
States and hospitals can’t successfully procure all that’s needed by themselves, said Dr. Megan Ranney, a Rhode Island emergency physician and researcher at Brown University.
“That would be like saying that you’re sending your troops to war and that you’re letting them get their own body armor and helmets,” she said Friday morning. “We need the federal government to stand up a response to distribute this appropriately.”
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing drugs such as the antimalarial chloroquine as potential treatments, one of the country’s top health officials says he thinks Americans should avoid crowds for several more weeks.
“If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks in other areas, it’s at least going to be several weeks,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC’s “Today” show on Friday.
Why California issued a general stay-at-home order
Spurring California’s general stay-at-home order, Newsom said, were models showing that the virus could sicken 25 million of California’s nearly 40 million people in eight weeks. That could require the hospitalization of more than 19,000 people beyond the state’s current capacity, he said.
California’s order won’t be enforced by police, Newsom said, but instead, by social pressure that will “encourage people to do the right thing.”
San Francisco paved the way for orders directing residents to stay put. Throughout California, similar directives went into effect by multiple counties this week, leading to the governor’s sweeping measures.
Economists predict 2.25 million in US filed initial unemployment claims this week
The country is only just beginning to understand the economic consequences of the pandemic.
Although a government report showed 281,000 Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week — a 33% jump over the week before — economists are predicting the next weekly report will be much worse.
Goldman Sachs economists predict next week’s report will show 2.25 million Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits this week — eight times the number of people who filed last week and the highest level on record.
Medical supply shortages loom as more tests return positive
Health care facilities that are facing a “crisis” should consider options to combat shortages, even if those options “are not commensurate with US standards of care,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in new guidance.
That includes using masks beyond their designated shelf life and reusing masks during encounters with different patients, cautioning however that not all types of masks can be reused.
As a last resort, the agency said health care providers could consider using “homemade masks” — such as bandanas or scarves — to care for coronavirus patients, ideally in combination with a face shield.
The guidance comes as hospitals and medical care workers have begun to sound the alarm on a rapidly vanishing inventory of supplies.
Governors highlighted those concerns Thursday to the President, many saying their main worry was that there isn’t enough personal protection equipment available in their states — like masks, disposable gowns and other supplies.
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