“They’re going into war,” Trump said. “They’re going into a battle that they’ve never really trained for.”
But the president also signaled his growing impatience with the stringent social distancing measures states had put in place around the country, which have sent the economy spiraling rapidly downward. Following an afternoon call with professional sports league officials, Trump said he wants “fans back in the arenas” as soon as possible.
“We have to open our country again,” Trump said. “We have to open our country again. We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months.”
More than 8,000 Americans are already dead. Government forecasts predict 100,000 to 240,000 residents could succumb to the disease, only if the public adheres to social distancing guidelines for weeks. Even as Trump continued to express hope for a rapid economic re-opening, he told Americans to expect a death toll that could easily eclipse losses during the Vietnam War.
“We are coming up onto a time that’s going to be very horrendous, probably a time like we haven’t seen in this country,” Trump said.
“We’re getting to that point where it’s going to really be some very bad numbers.”
Video: Trump announces 1,000 military personnel deploying to New YorkThe president’s comments came after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the Chinese government and Oregon officials for shipping more than 1,000 ventilators to New York in response to the area’s ballooning number of coronavirus patients.
In a news conference on Saturday, Cuomo said 1,000 ventilators from China were expected to arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday; Oregon is loaning New York an additional 140 ventilators, he said.
The fresh supplies could delay an urgent equipment shortage that Cuomo warned on Thursday could arrive within a week, as New York officials brace for the epidemic to crest in their state.
Nationwide, the number of cumulative confirmed cases has surged past 300,000, along with more than 8,000 deaths from complications related to the virus. While several states are seeing worsening local outbreaks, New York has suffered the most confirmed cases and deaths in the U.S. thus far: More than 600 people have died since Friday, bringing the state’s tally to 3,565 deaths. More than 113,000 have tested positive for the virus.
“We’re all in the same battle here and the battle is stopping the spread of the virus,” Cuomo told reporters in Albany. “Stop the virus here. It’s better for the state of Oregon, it’s better for the nation.”
A group of patients who tested positive for Covid-19 were meanwhile isolated and treated aboard the USNS Comfort hospital ship docked in Manhattan, a Navy spokeswoman confirmed Saturday, as part of a shift from the military vessel’s planned role in the city’s battle against the novel coronavirus.
Video: Trump says he may take hydroxychloroquineOfficials initially said the ship would not treat coronavirus patients when it arrived in New York, but would instead take on other patients to free up beds at local hospitals focused on combating the pandemic.
But a handful of patients who transferred to the Comfort for treatment on Friday tested positive for Covid-19, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ashley Hockycko told POLITICO. The patients were isolated and cared for during their time aboard the Comfort, and were being transferred to a FEMA overflow hospital at the city’s Javits Center.
“Our medical experts on board are well prepared for cases like this, and have taken the appropriate precautionary measures,” Hockycko said in a statement. “The Comfort is capable of continuing its mission.”
The Comfort is staffed by 1,200 medical personnel and equipped with operating rooms, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, digital radiology, a CAT scan, two oxygen-producing plants and a helicopter deck.
Patients initially required a negative test for the disease before arriving to the Comfort for treatment, Hockycko said. Now, the ship is accepting asymptomatic patients who will be isolated and tested immediately after their arrival.
If the patients test positive for Covid-19, the Navy spokeswoman said, authorities will transfer the patients to the Javits Center “as soon as practical.”