US Prepares for Covid-19 Pandemic that Could Last up to 18 Months
By Staff, Agencies
Nearly two months since the first US coronavirus case, the federal government is now preparing for a pandemic that could last up to 18 months or longer and include multiple waves of illness, a report obtained by CNN shows.
Hospitals have already sounded the alarm on quickly vanishing supplies as the outbreak in the US shows no signs of slowing - in just 24 hours, cases soared by more than 40%.
The US government announced this week it would help make up for potential medical supply shortages and deploy two hospital ships to help increase medical capacity.
Nearly 9,000 Americans have tested positive for the virus. At least 149 have died.
"I view it as, in a sense, of wartime president," US President Donald Trump said in a news conference Wednesday. "I mean, that's what we're fighting. It's a very tough situation here."
To slow the spread of the virus, governors across the country sprang into action this week, implementing drastic measures such as shutting down schools, transitioning bars and restaurants to only take-out services and putting a ban on mass gatherings.
Some city leaders in California - including San Francisco's Mayor London Breed who was the first to enact such a policy - have instructed their residents to "shelter-in-place" and leave their home only if absolutely necessary.
About 10 million residents are under such an order. Solano County, the latest to join other Bay Area counties in implementing the order, told residents to stay put until April 7.
"We are taking this health crisis seriously and trying to protect our community while still ensuring that the essential parts of our county can function and attempting to lessen the substantial burden placed on workers and businesses," Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County Public Health Officer said in a statement.
But in many communities across the US, that burden has proved massive, with some hospitals saying they are down to days' worth of equipment.
In southwest Georgia, hospitals are left with three days' worth of masks, Scott Steiner, President & CEO of Phoebe Putney Health Systems said.
"We have gone through five months, now six months' worth of supplies in less than a week," he said. "And we are scrambling."
To get the supply to last longer, Steiner said a team of staff members are sewing masks together.
"This is surgical sheeting, and this is our prototype," he said. "We have about 3,000 of these made. We believe we can make 200,000 of them. It will take a few weeks, but this is kind of what we're having to do because we don't know when the next shipment is coming."