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Now Reading: OVERWHELMED | U.S. expands hospitals as virus death toll surpasses China
OVERWHELMED | U.S. expands hospitals as virus death toll surpasses China
April 1, 2020 , 08:05 AM

NEW YORK/ LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The U.S. government raced on Tuesday to build hundreds of makeshift hospitals near major cities to ease the strain on overwhelmed healthcare systems as President Donald Trump predicted a “very painful” two weeks ahead.

The death toll in the United States, tallied by Reuters, stood at 800 for Tuesday, the most for a single day so far.

Nearly half the fatalities were in New York state, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pleaded for reinforcements from the Trump administration.

“This is the point at which we must be prepared for next week, when we expect a huge increase in the number of cases. What I asked very clearly, last week, was for military medical personnel to be deployed here,” de Blasio said at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, where a field hospital was being hastily built.

The tennis center is home to the U.S. Open Tennis Championship, scheduled to take place this year on August 24.

De Blasio, a Democrat, said he had asked the White House for an additional 1,000 nurses, 300 respiratory therapists and 150 doctors by Sunday.

More than 3,700 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States during the outbreak, more than the number who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The total confirmed U.S. cases rose to 184,000, up 21,000 from Monday.

White House medical experts have said between 100,000 to 200,000 people could ultimately die from the respiratory disease in the United States, despite orders in most major cities largely confining Americans to their homes. More than 30 states have ordered people to stay at home to contain the virus, a move that has strangled the economy and left millions without a paycheck.

Trump, speaking at the White House on Tuesday, said the next two weeks would be “very, very painful” for the country.

“We want Americans to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead. We’re going to through a very tough two weeks and then, hopefully, as the experts are predicting … you’re going to be seeing some real light at the end of the tunnel,” the president said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was searching for hotels, dormitories, convention centers and large open spaces to build as many as 341 temporary hospitals, Lieutenant General Todd Semonite told the ABC News “Good Morning America” program.

The corps has already converted New York City’s Jacob Javits Convention Center into a 1,000-bed hospital in the space of a week.

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