With the deadly coronavirus quickly spreading through New York City, the city’s doctors and nurses are panicking that a lack of tests, beds, ventilators, and protective equipment have set them up for failure in one of the most critical fights in the city’s history.
“This is our Chernobyl,” said one New York hospital doctor, who like other health care professionals interviewed for this article, requested VICE not include his name or place of work. “The people in charge are not listening to the people on the ground. Everything is getting caught up in bureaucracy.”
This week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that the virus could peak in a month and a half. But as of Thursday, New York City already had confirmed 3,600 cases of coronavirus—up from 2,000 cases just the night before—and New York State had 5,200 confirmed cases, the most of any state in the country. Cuomo has asked President Donald Trump to mobilize the Army Corps of Engineers and build temporary medical facilities in New York. “It’s only a matter of time before our state’s ICU beds fill up,” Cuomo tweeted Monday. “The federal gov’t must act.” According to New York hospital staff, the extra beds are already necessary. The growing number of cases have left hospital staff feeling overwhelmed by the flood of COVID-19 patients—a situation made worse by conflicting messaging and loosened safety standards that staff fear could increase their and their patients’ chance of exposure to the virus. (continued)