The richest country in the world was catastrophically unprepared for an epidemic of coronavirus infection.
At the end of last month, the United States came out on top in the number of new coronavirus infections. New York became the epicenter of the American epidemic: in the city, more than 67 thousand confirmed cases of infection, more than three thousand people died.
New York authorities are preparing for a sharp increase in the number of deaths. Doctors are thinking about how to divide one ventilator into two patients, and mobile morgues appeared on the streets for the first time after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
One protective mask per week
US President Donald Trump said the coming weeks in the United States will be the most difficult due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus infection in the country.
вЂњIt seems that the hardest week is coming вЂ” this or next. Unfortunately, a lot of people will die. But much less than it would be if we didnвЂ™t take the necessary measures. But people will die,вЂќ he said at a news conference, promising to protect the great вЂњAmerican people.
In addition, Trump announced the sending to New York of thousands of military specialists. The day before, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he was awaiting the receipt of thousands of ventilators and another 130 from Oregon.
Due to the difficult situation in the state, the authorities had to use the USNS Comfort medical ship to place the infected.
Nevertheless, the president noted that he did not want to prolong quarantine measures harmful to the economy.
вЂњWe need to open the country, open it again. We canвЂ™t continue to do this month after month,вЂќ the American leader said.
Despite receiving almost 1.5 thousand new ventilators, the situation remains extremely difficult: according to authorities, at the peak of the epidemic, local doctors will need about 37 thousand of such devices, and so far there are just over ten thousand.
The US National Strategic Reserve has nearly run out of personal protective equipment: medical masks, respirators, gloves, and gowns. According to CNN, New York health workers are preparing to wear raincoats and garbage bags instead of dressing gowns.
вЂњWe canвЂ™t wait for us to be provided with state stock. As we know, the state stock is exhausted. Therefore, we need to be inventive,вЂќ said Wayne Riley, president of SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
вЂњI know people who are given one protective mask for a week. If you lose this mask, or it gets dirty or gets wet, you can only wish you good luck in looking for another. People hold on to their protective equipment, like survivors in shipwrecks for life rafts.вЂќ, said a general practitioner at a New York hospital.
There are no places not only for patients but also for corpses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency sent 85 refrigeration trucks to New York.
At some hospitals, such as the Lenox Hill Clinic in Manhattan, trucks park on the roads and near apartment buildings. While dead bodies are being loaded on them, people are passing by cars and buses, the New York Times notes.
It is expected that in New York, half the population of the metropolitan area will be ill with the coronavirus, which is ten million people. At the same time, 100-200 thousand people will die of COVID-19 throughout the country.
No hard quarantine
Authorities began to monitor the movements of US residents through their smartphones in order to better understand the distribution routes of the coronavirus, writes the Wall Street Journal, citing sources.
According to the publication, the government does not receive data on the location of Americans from mobile operators, but from advertisers who place ads in mobile applications.
This information is depersonalized вЂ” the authorities can only see the personвЂ™s travel route, but they do not have data about himself or his phone. According to WSJ, people are tracked in the 500 largest cities in the United States.
So far, authorities have decided not to introduce a hard quarantine option in New York. Restaurants and theaters were closed first, later training in schools and universities was completed or went online, but no one forbade people to go outside.
The main requirement is to maintain a distance from other people at least two meters, but the streets are deserted. Metro and buses still run, but people practically do not use them. Most people themselves chose the path of voluntary isolation and work from home.
However, the closure or suspension of the work of American small and medium-sized enterprises amid a policy of social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic led to an unprecedented surge in unemployment.
In two weeks, ten million people applied for an initial unemployment benefit to the employment authorities.
The number of applications for unemployment benefits during the Great Recession of 2009 was several times lower (maximum 665 thousand a week in March 2009).
How did the US find itself in such a situation
Why was the US catastrophically unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic, despite the presence of a huge number of highly skilled specialists and the resources of the richest country in the world?
Journalists, epidemiologists, and other professionals generally agree that the main problem is that since the end of January, when the first infected person appeared in the United States, not enough virus tests were performed until early March. This would help stop the pandemic at the very beginning.
The New York Times believes that the вЂњstring of mistakes and missed opportunitiesвЂќ committed by the US leadership led to this scenario.
In particular, Trump sent conflicting signals regarding the scale of the threat and the measures that the States plan to take to counter the coronavirus. Even after the epidemic swept China, the US authorities did not take it seriously, the newspaper writes.
The press wrote that US intelligence in January warned of the dangers of coronavirus. But week after week passed, Trump wrote off this threat until the World Health Organization announced the coronavirus pandemic.