President warns next two weeks will be 'very painful' as he says 10,000 ventilators being held back for 'surge' in coronavirus cases

Joe Sommerlad, Chris Riotta, Danielle Zoellner
AFP via Getty Images

The US State Department has warned Americans abroad to come home “immediately” as the country’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed that of China, with the country now suffering some 163,000 confirmed cases of the novel virus.

Former vice president Al Gore has meanwhile reminded Donald Trump “you can’t gaslight a virus” as the president seeks to project an image of unity and bipartisan approval of his response to the crisis, despite his initial denial and inaction unquestionably making matters worse and drawing widespread criticism.

As New York continues to battle the crisis, new makeshift field hospitals are opening in Central Park’s East Meadow, offering 68-beds to support the nearby Mount Sinai Hospital, as well as aboard the USNS Comfort and at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, more commonly the site of the US Open.

During the president's press conference on Tuesday, Trump said the next two weeks will be "very painful" for the country as the government works to curb the spread of the novel virus. Cases are expected to soar from now until at least Easter (12 April).

The federal government is holding 10,000 ventilators for the future surge anticipated in the coming weeks. But this stockpile might already see a need from states like Louisiana, which reported the number of patients using ventilators has doubled in just five days.

An updated list of guidelines for Covid-19 response was handed out at the top of the president's presser. These guidelines included imploring households to stay home if anyone test postive for the novel virus. It was also encouraged, again, for the elderly and immunocompromised to stay home.