Minggu, 05 April 2020

Coronavirus Live Updates: New Hot Spots Emerge; Trump Warns of ‘a Lot of Death’ - The New York Times

Credit...Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

President Trump veers from predicting ‘a lot of death’ to revisiting Easter services.

Veering from grim warnings to baseless assurances in a single news conference, President Trump on Saturday predicted a surging death toll in what he said may be “the toughest week” of the coronavirus pandemic before also dispensing unproven medical advice. He suggested again that Americans might be able to congregate for Easter services next Sunday.

“There will be a lot of death,” he said at the White House, where he and other American officials depicted some parts of the United States as climbing toward the peaks of their crises, while warning that new hot spots were emerging in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Washington, D.C.

At one point Mr. Trump, who initially set Easter Sunday as a target date for reopening the country before backing off, said that the holiday would be a particularly sad day for Americans prohibited from gathering in large numbers. He said that he would like to consider relaxing social distancing rules for Easter services and that he had weighed the possibility of allowing church gatherings outdoors with “great separation.”

“It’s something we should talk about,” he added, though he did not announce any changes to existing federal recommendations. “But somebody did say that, ‘Well, then you’re sort of opening it up to that little, you know, do we want to take a chance on doing that when we’ve been doing so well?’”

More than 8,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States, and the White House has said that its projections show that the virus could claim at least 100,000 lives in the country.

“The next two weeks are extraordinarily important,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator. “This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe, and that means everybody doing the six-feet distancing, washing their hands.”

Dr. Birx also said that Detroit, New York and Louisiana — the current hot spots — were likely to reach a peak in the next six to seven days, citing predictions by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The U.S. will stockpile an anti-malarial drug, the president says, despite scant proof that it works on the coronavirus.

President Trump appeared to suggest on Saturday that the federal government was placing large amounts of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine in its Strategic National Stockpile, speaking optimistically about its potential to treat coronavirus patients and saying he would consider taking it himself if needed.

But only anecdotal reports and one small clinical trial have shown any benefits, and the F.D.A. has not approved the drug for coronavirus treatments. Also, a spike in interest in the drug has now left patients who rely on it for chronic diseases wondering whether they will be able to fill their prescriptions.

“We’re going to be distributing it through the Strategic National Stockpile,” Mr. Trump said at a White House news conference, adding, “We have millions and millions of doses of it.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services received 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate last month from Sandoz, a division of Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, for use in clinical trials and potentially treating coronavirus patients.

Previous reports from China and France that hydroxychloroquine seemed to help patients, along with enthusiastic comments from Mr. Trump, have created a buzz around the drug and the closely related chloroquine, which have been used for decades to treat autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The subsequent surge in demand has led to hoarding and shortages.

Modi calls for a lights-out vigil in India during the lockdown.

As India’s reported coronavirus cases rose past 3,000 and the authorities fanned out to find more infected people who had attended a packed religious gathering in the capital, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a nine-minute lights-out vigil for Sunday night.

Many dismissed it as a publicity stunt.

Mr. Modi has asked India’s 1.3 billion people, who are under the world’s largest lockdown, to turn off the electricity and “light a lamp, brighten everyone else’s path.” He presented it as an enormous solidarity exercise to “bring our nation closer and strengthen the battle against Covid-19.”

While many Indian TV channels and corporations cheered the prime minister on, opposition politicians dismissed his call as a gimmick.

“There is so much more the nation was expecting,” said Shashi Tharoor, a top politician from the Indian National Congress, the leading opposition party.

Mr. Modi “has not dealt with the lack of personal protective equipment, of kits for rapid testing; even doctors are complaining that they cannot do their work,” Mr. Tharoor said. “All this was about was symbolism,” he added. “It was like preparing a giant photo op for the nation. Photo ops will not solve the problems created by the coronavirus.”

Many health experts say they believe that India has far more cases than reported. The percentage of people being tested is much lower than in many other countries.

The authorities have zeroed in on an Islamic seminary in Delhi that held a large gathering in March where many attendees then dispersed nationwide and later became sick from the virus. More than 1,000 cases across India — nearly a third of the official total — have been traced o that one gathering, health officials said on Sunday.

Coronavirus has pummeled a Brooklyn hospital and its patients.

Residents from the I.C.U. at the Brooklyn Hospital Center presented their cases to the attending physicians last week speaking in shorthand and at auctioneer-like speed.

“Admitted for acute hypoxic respiratory failure secondary to likely Covid-19.”

“Admitted for acute hypoxic respiratory failure secondary to confirmed Covid-19.”

“Admitted for acute hypoxic respiratory failure, high suspicion of Covid-19.”

Nearly every patient in a bed in the new intensive care unit, just as in the main one, was breathing with the help of a mechanical ventilator.

There were patients in their 80s and in their 30s. Patients whose asthma and diabetes helped explain their serious illness. And patients who seemed to have no risk factors at all. Patients from nursing homes. Patients who had no homes. Pregnant women, some of whom would not be conscious when their babies were delivered to increase their odds of surviving to raise their children.

This was the week that the coronavirus crisis pummeled hospitals throughout New York City, where deaths reached more than 2,000, as the governor warned that vital equipment and supplies would run short in just a few days. The mayor pleaded for more doctors, and hospital officials and political leaders said that the situation would get even worse.

At the Brooklyn Hospital Center — a medium-size independent community hospital — that toll was evident. Deaths attributed to the virus more than quintupled from the previous week. The number of inpatients confirmed to have Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, grew from 15 to 105, with 48 more awaiting results. Hospital leaders estimated that about a third of doctors and nurses were out sick.

The hospital temporarily ran out of protective plastic gowns, of the main sedative for patients on ventilators, and of a key blood pressure medication. The sense of urgency and tragedy was heightened by a video, circulating online, showing a forklift hoisting a body into a refrigerated trailer outside the hospital.

Some nurses cared for five critically ill patients at a time, when the norm there was just two. The array of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and respiratory therapists accustomed to working in the I.C.U. needed reinforcements, so a podiatrist and two of her resident trainees, a neurosurgery physician assistant, surgery residents and a nurse anesthetist joined in to help.

Dr. James Gasperino, the chair of medicine and vice president for critical care at the hospital, conferred in the hallway with the director of respiratory therapy. The hospital had 98 ventilators, many acquired in recent days. Employees were running simulations to practice how they might use each ventilator to treat two patients, a difficult and risky proposition.

“We’re doing this because the alternative is death,” Dr. Gasperino said.

More than one million Chinese students are stranded overseas.

One student fantasized about buying a $30,000 seat on a private jet. One mother, frustrated with her inability to bring her daughter home, sent masks instead. One group of desperate parents made an unusually public appeal to the Chinese government for help.

The coronavirus outbreak has stranded more than one million Chinese students in empty dormitories and fearful towns and cities around the world.

Many of those overseas students want to flee back to China, where official numbers suggest that the authorities have made progress in containing the pandemic. Fear, politics and the competing priorities of the Chinese government stand in the way.

Virtually all flights to and from China have been canceled as Beijing tries to keep infected travelers from reigniting the contagion there. Remaining seats are breathtakingly expensive. For students trapped in the United States, their families worry that tense relations between Beijing and Washington will hinder Chinese-run evacuation efforts.

The fears led one group of parents to publicly petition the Chinese government, a risky move in a country that increasingly tries to keep a lid on dissent. In an open letter posted online and addressed to the Chinese ambassador to the United States, the parents of 200 students in the New York area carefully praised the Chinese government’s support for its citizens overseas. Then it cited the “Wolf Warrior” series of films, huge hits in China, in which patriotic soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army protect Chinese people from overseas threats.

The stranded students have put Beijing in a bind. It is anxious to tame the coronavirus outbreak that raged through the country before it spread abroad, putting its economy in free fall. Bringing in people from abroad, the government believes, invites further spread.

24 hours in Pandemic America.

A drug recovery meeting hosted online. A police officer wearing a face mask. A pastor without a congregation. A funeral director trying to bury the dead.

The merciless threat slipped into the country, emptying its streets, shuttering its stores, wrecking its economy and forcing its people to retreat indoors.

In this pandemic nation, once crowded cities now feel abandoned, as if everyone suddenly moved out. There is no rush hour. “Closed” signs hang from the front doors of business after business. But there are new connections, too.

For many, the coronavirus pandemic involves the most dramatic kind of fight — for life, for food, for money. For others, it can feel absurdly trifling as they stay inside — a fight against boredom, binge eating, isolation.

This was 24 hours in a new America this week.

The rising heroes of the coronavirus era? Nations’ top scientists.

If it weren’t the age of social distancing, people would stop them on the street to take selfies. Instead, they get adoring messages on social media. Others appear on television daily.

The new celebrities emerging across Europe as the coronavirus burns a deadly path through the continent are not actors or singers or politicians. Instead, they are epidemiologists and virologists who have become household names after spending most of their lives in virtual anonymity.

While nurses and doctors treat patients on the front lines, epidemiologists and virologists who have spent careers in lecture halls and laboratories have become the most trusted sources of information in an era of deep uncertainty, diverging policy and raging disinformation.

After a long period of popular backlash against experts and expertise, which underpinned a sweep of political change and set off culture wars in much of the developed world, societies besieged by coronavirus isolation and desperate for facts are turning to these experts for answers.

“During a crisis, heroes come to the forefront because many of our basic human needs are threatened, including our need for certainty, meaning and purpose, self-esteem, and sense of belonging with others,” said Elaine Kinsella, a psychology professor at the University of Limerick in Ireland who has researched the role of heroes in society.

“Heroes help to fulfill, at least in part, some of these basic human needs,” she added.

The scientist-heroes emerging from the coronavirus crisis rarely have the obvious charisma of political leaders, but they show deep expertise and, sometimes, compassion.

In Italy, one of the hardest-hit nations in the world, Dr. Massimo Galli, the director the infectious diseases department at Luigi Sacco University Hospital in Milan, swapped his lab coat for a suit and accepted that he “would be overexposed in the media” in order to set things straight, he told one talk show.

In Greece, which has so far been spared a major outbreak, a wide audience tunes in when Prof. Sotirios Tsiodras addresses the nation every day at 6 p.m.

His delivery is flat, and he relies heavily on his notes as he updates the country on the latest figures of those confirmed sick, hospitalized or deceased. Occasionally, he offers practical advice, like a solution of four teaspoons of bleach per liter of water can be sprayed on surfaces for disinfection.

Reporting was contributed by Jeffrey Gettleman, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Michael Crowley, Denise Grady, Sheri Fink, Alexandra Stevenson and Tiffany May.

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2020-04-05 11:02:12Z

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