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Inside New York’s unfolding coronavirus tragedy at epicentre of US crisis

By the time the coronavirus pandemic is over, experts fear New York's death toll will dwarf the number of lives lost in the 9/11 attacks.

The unfolding tragedy has seen the Big Apple become the epicentre of America's Covid-19 crisis, with ill-prepared authorities struggling to get the equipment together needed to save lives.

In recent days heartbreaking reports have surfaced of hero medics forced to wrap themselves in bin bags because proper protective gear is not available.

And harrowing video of dead bodies being loaded onto a refrigerated truck outside Brooklyn Hospital shows the devastating human cost of the pandemic.

More than 40% of the 4,076 coronavirus deaths in the US so far have been in New York state.

And it is due to get a lot worse before it gets better, Americans were warned.

There were 2,977 innocent victims of the 9/11 attacks.

For the latest on the coronavirus pandemic, click here

How bad is the situation in New York?

The number killed by coronavirus across the state has now topped 1,500, with the peak still weeks away, state governor Andrew Cuomo warned.

So far more than 76,000 people have tested positive in New York, with 10,000 being treated in hospital.

The state accounts for nearly half of coronavirus-related deaths across the US - which currently number 3,393, overtaking China's reported total of 3,305.

Man makes emotional speech as bodies are loaded into a truck outside a New York hospital

Cuomo - whose TV anchor brother Chris has tested positive - admitted during a news conference yesterday: "The virus is more powerful, more dangerous than we expected.

"We're still going up the mountain, the main battle is on top of the mountain."

The bustling streets of New York City have fallen quiet as citizens are urged to stay home and prevent the disease from spreading.

Is New York equipped for the pandemic?

Officials and medics have said they desperately need more resources to be able to tackle the crisis.

York City Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday pleaded for reinforcements, saying: "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."

Authorities have scrambled to set up hospitals in disused buildings to cope with the huge number of patients.

On Monday the Javits Center in Manhattan opened as an emergency facility with a capacity of 2,500 beds.

US Naval Ship Comfort has docked in New York's harbor, and can care for up to 1,000 patients.

Yesterday de Blasio announced the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center - which hosts the US Open - would become a 350-bed hospital.

But he warned this is nowhere near enough, stating: "All the hospitals combined had about 20,000 staffed hospital beds.

"We now need to - in just the next weeks - triple that number."

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

  What's happening with ventilators?

New York isn't the only state that's desperately short of ventilators which can save lives.

Last week Cuomo said there are 12,000 available to medics, but it could need as many as 40,000 more at the height of the crisis.

However because each state is responsible for buying its own ventilators, governors are competing against each other and the price has soared.


"We've created a situation where you literally have hundreds of entities looking to buy the same exact materials basically from the same place, which is China, ironically enough," he said.

"The ventilators are now over $50,000, if you can find them.

"The ventilators didn't change that much in two weeks. The prices went up because literally we are driving the prices up."

  What options are there for containing New York's pandemic?

At the weekend Donald Trump said he would issue advice urging against travel in and out of the state.

He had initially suggested sealing the state off.

"A quarantine will not be necessary," he said on Twitter.

Trump said on Saturday afternoon that he might impose a ban on travel in and out of New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, but backed down as critics called the idea unworkable.

"If you started walling off areas all across the country it would be totally bizarre, counter-productive, anti-American," Cuomo told CNN.

  What has Donald Trump said this week?

Even US President Donald Trump, whose handling of the crisis has been heavily criticised, has finally acknowledged how bleak the situation is.

Faced with a projection that between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die from coronavirus this year, Trump was forced to abandon his call for the economy to be "reopened" by Easter.


"Our country is in the midst of a great national trial," the Republican said.

"We're going to go through a very tough two weeks."

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