New York (AFP) - New York is days away from running out of essential equipment needed to keep hospitals running, its mayor warned Sunday, likening the coronavirus pandemic to the Great Depression.
The Big Apple has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and Bill de Blasio said the city's hospitals were at breaking point.
"Bluntly, we're about ten days away now from seeing widespread shortages of ventilators, surgical masks, the things necessary to keep a hospital system running," de Blasio told CNN.
He pleaded with President Donald Trump to mobilize the military to help spur production and distribution of urgently needed medical supplies.
"If we don't get more ventilators in the next ten days, people will die who don't have to die. It's as simple as that," said de Blasio.
He warned that "the worst is yet to come" and called the fast-spreading outbreak "the greatest crisis domestically since the Great Depression" of the 1930s.
"That's why we need a full-scale mobilization of the military and we need the Congress to act like we're on the way to the next great depression," de Blasio said.
"Forget bailing out the airlines right now. Bail out the people. Bail out the hospitals. Bail out the cities and states and counties," he added.
Almost 27,000 people have been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus in the United States, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.
More than 9,000 of them live in New York City, where there have been 60 fatalities.
A total of 114 people have died in New York state so far, Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters Sunday.
He said he had asked America's Army Corps of Engineers to build four temporary hospitals and ordered existing hospitals to increase capacity by 50 percent.
Cuomo added that all non-essential surgeries would be scrapped from Wednesday to help free up space for coronavirus patients.
He said New York state needed 30,000 ventilators which can costs up to $40,000 each, lamenting that states are competing with each other to purchase them.
"This is just an impossible situation to manage. If we don't get the equipment we can lose lives that we could have otherwise saved," explained Cuomo.
The head of the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency, Peter Gaynor, in charge of the government's response effort, said the demand for supplies, such as ventilators, was a "global problem."
"We're working hard every day here to meet those demands," he told ABC.
America's leading infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, said the federal government would start "pouring" resources into New York, California and Washington state.
"The resources that are being marshaled are going to be clearly directed to those hotspots that need it most," Fauci, director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS.