The United States aims to build hundreds of temporary hospitals to ease pressure on a healthcare system under siege from the coronavirus pandemic, with the U.S. death toll now topping 3,600 to surpass the total in China, where the outbreak began.
In the face of such an onslaught, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is searching for hotels, dormitories, convention centers and large open spaces to build as many as 341 temporary hospitals, Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, the head of the corps, told the ABC News “Good Morning America” program.
U.S. officials have said the pandemic could lead to 100,000 to 200,000 deaths in the United States.
Besides straining infrastructure, the pandemic is taking a toll on doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, who are overworked and lack the medical devices and protective gear needed.
“The duration itself is debilitating and exhausting and depressing,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told a news conference where he revealed that his brother, CNN news anchor Chris Cuomo, had tested positive for the virus.
“I’m speaking to healthcare professionals who say, ‘Look, more than physically tired, I’m just emotionally tired.’”
The corps, the engineering arm of the U.S. Army, already joined with New York state officials to convert New York City’s Jacob Javits Convention Center into a 1,000-bed hospital in the space of a week.
Like many temporary hospitals, the center will relieve the pressure by taking non-coronavirus patients. That will allow existing hospitals to focus on patients with COVID-19, the respiratory ailment caused by the coronavirus.