The US death toll from the coronavirus pandemic climbed past 3,000 on Monday, the deadliest day yet in the country’s mounting crisis, while New York cheered the arrival of a gleaming 1,000-bed US Navy hospital ship as a sign of hope in the city’s desperate fight.
In a grim new milestones marking the spread of the virus, total deaths across the United States hit 3,017, including at least 540 on Monday, and the reported cases climbed to more than 163,000, according to a Reuters tally.
People in New York and New Jersey lined both sides of the Hudson River to cheer the US Navy ship Comfort, a converted oil tanker painted white with giant red crosses, as it sailed past the Statue of Liberty accompanied by support ships and helicopters.
The Comfort will treat non-coronavirus patients, including those who require surgery and critical care, in an effort to free up other resources to fight the virus, the Navy said.
“It’s a wartime atmosphere and we all have to pull together,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was among the dignitaries to greet the ship’s arrival at the Midtown Manhattan pier.
Hospitals in the New York City area have been overrun with patients suffering from Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus. Officials have appealed for volunteer healthcare workers.
“We can’t take care of you if we can’t take care of ourselves,” said Krystal Horchuck, a nurse with Virtua Memorial Hospital in New Jersey. “I think a lot of us have accepted the fact that we are probably going to get this. It’s just that we want to survive. We’re all being exposed to it at some point.”
The United States has the most confirmed cases in the world, a number that is likely to soar when tests for the virus become more widespread.
President Donald Trump told a White House briefing that more than 1 million Americans had been tested for coronavirus — less than 3 per cent of the population. While the United States has ramped up testing after a series of setbacks, it still lags countries like Italy and South Korea on a per capita basis.
In California, another hard-hit state, Governor Gavin Newsom said the number of Covid-19 hospitalisations had nearly doubled over the past four days and the number of ICU patients had tripled. Officials there also appealed for medical volunteers.