By Albert Traver and Jorge Fuentelsaz.
Washington, DC/New York, March 30 (efe-epa).- US President Donald Trump said on Monday that “the economy is number two” on his list and “saving lives” is his focus, with COVID-19 cases exceeding 160,000 in the country.
“(Confinement is) so bad for the economy, but the economy is number two on my list. First, I want to save a lot of lives,” Trump said during his daily press conference on the coronavirus at the White House.
The president therefore changed his discourse from last week, when he had said that “the cure can’t be worse than the disease” and urged the reactivation of the national economy as soon as possible and the relaxation of isolation measures.
His goal was to see churches full on Apr. 12, Easter Sunday, as a symbol of this revival.
Trump extended measures to fight the coronavirus on Sunday till Apr. 30 after his highest-ranking medical advisers showed him estimates of at least 100,000 deaths while maintaining the current precautions.
The president warned that the peak of deaths in the US – which has already surpassed 3,000 – will not come until at least two weeks from now.
“By very vigorously following these guidelines, we could save more than one million American lives,” Trump said, again putting the health crisis ahead of the economy, of which he was confident the recovery would “come back soon” once the pandemic has passed.
The president boasted that a million coronavirus tests have already been performed in the United States – of which at least 161,000 have tested positive – being the first country in the world to reach that number.
Secretary of Health, Alex Azar, specified that the country has already reached 100,000 daily tests, which according to experts from the World Health Organization is key to stopping the spread of the virus.
“Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow,” Trump said early this month.
Meanwhile, New York state, the epicenter of COVID-19 in the US, worked against the clock, anticipating a “tsunami” of cases.
“The tsunami is coming. We know it is. Now is the time to gather supplies, do the preparations because it’s too late the day before,” New York governor and Democrat Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
“If you have not done the work before the storm hits, it’s too late to do it once the storm hits. And the storm is coming,” he warned.
The state is by far the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic in the country, with 67,000 of the 163,000 positive cases nationwide and 1,342 of the 3,148 deaths. Among the infected New Yorkers, about 9,500 are hospitalized and 2,000 are in intensive care.
Adding to the overflow of hospitals is that of the morgues, so the authorities in New York have installed a mobile morgue in Manhattan and Brooklyn to face the crisis.
To mitigate the “tsunami” predicted by Cuomo, New York will have 3,500 new hospital beds, with around 1,000 from the military medical ship Comfort, which arrived in the city on Monday, and 2,500 from the field hospital installed at the Javits convention center.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio received the military ship at Pier 90 in Manhattan with “1,200 medical staff and sailors here to help us all. Seven-hundred-and-fifty beds will be put into play immediately to relieve the pressure on our hospital system,” he said.
The Rear Admiral of the Comfort, John Mustin, said they will not dedicate themselves to treating those with COVID-19, but will receive other types of patients to relieve the pressure the city’s hospitals are facing.
The ship is equipped with 12 operating rooms, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy and digital radiology, as well as two facilities for the production of oxygen and a helicopter pad.