New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has pleaded for medical supplies, warning Covid-19 is spreading in his state faster than "a bullet train", reports BBC.
"The apex is higher than we thought and the apex is sooner than we thought," Mr Cuomo told reporters on Tuesday.
He said the federal government was not sending anywhere near enough lifesaving equipment to confront the crisis.
New York now has over 25,000 confirmed virus cases and at least 210 deaths.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday the US has the potential to become the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.
The warnings come as President Donald Trump said he hoped the US would reopen for business next month.
What did Governor Cuomo say?
"We need federal help and we need the federal help now," Mr Cuomo, a Democrat, said.
"New York is the canary in the coal mine, New York is happening first, what is happening to New York will happen to California and Illinois, it is just a matter of time."
The governor blasted the 400 ventilators sent to New York from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.
He said: "You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators."
New York currently has 7,000 ventilators, but needs 30,000, the governor said.
Mr Cuomo continued: "The [infection] forecaster said to me, 'We were looking at a freight train coming across the country.'
"'We're now looking at a bullet train.'"
The state is also looking into creating more healthcare areas, possibly by turning college dormitories and hotels into makeshift hospitals.
With 25,665 cases in New York, the state accounts for more than half of all US infections.
The number of new cases in the state is doubling every three days, the governor said, and showing no sign of slowing down.
Mr Cuomo said the rate of infections could overwhelm the healthcare system. New York may need up to 140,000 hospital beds in a worst-case scenario, he said.
The governor also said he would not "put a dollar amount on human life", in what was seen as an implicit criticism of Mr Trump's concerns that measures to contain the virus could wreck the US economy.
"My mother is not expendable and your mother is not expendable," said Mr Cuomo.
What did President Trump say?
On Tuesday, President Trump told Fox News he hoped the country could get back to normal by Easter, which is 19 days away.
Mr Trump, a Republican, said: "We're going to be opening relatively soon... I would love to have the country opened up and just rearing to go by Easter."
He added: "Easter is a very special day for me... and you'll have packed churches all over our country."
Mr Trump also warned that otherwise the country could suffer "a massive recession or depression".
The president said: "You're going to lose people. You're going to have suicides by the thousands. You're going to have all sorts of things happen.
"You're going to have instability. You can't just come in and say, 'Let's close up the United States of America, the most successful country in the world by far.'"
Speaking at a White House briefing later, Mr Trump said "our decision will be based on hard facts and data as to the opening [of our country]".
According to the latest Gallup poll, his approval rating has risen five points this month to 49%, the best of his presidency.
What is the current US situation?
There are over 53,000 confirmed cases and more than 700 deaths attributed to Covid-19 in the US.
Dr Deborah Birx, of the White House coronavirus taskforce, said the New York City metro area was the source of 56% of all cases and 60% of all new cases in the country. She advised anyone leaving the region to self-quarantine for two weeks.
On Tuesday, Wisconsin, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Mexico, West Virginia and Indiana were introducing stay-at-home orders, bringing the total number of US states under such lockdowns to 17.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been debating the details of an economic stimulus package that could total over $2 trillion (£1.7 trillion).
Democrats and the White House indicated negotiations could conclude on Tuesday, with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin saying "the president wants us to get this done today".
As cases of coronavirus rise, President Donald Trump said that he wants to reopen the country for business in weeks, not months, and claimed, without evidence, that continued closures could result in more deaths than the pandemic itself.
"We can't have the cure be worse than the problem," Trump told reporters at a briefing Monday, echoing a midnight Sunday tweet. "We have to open our country because that causes problems that, in my opinion, could be far bigger problems."
Health experts have made clear that unless Americans continue to dramatically limit social interaction — staying home from work and isolating themselves — the number of infections will overwhelm the health care system, as it has in parts of Italy, leading to many more deaths. While the worst outbreaks are concentrated in certain parts of the country, such as New York, experts warn that the highly infectious disease is certain to spread.
But with the economic impact now snapping into focus and millions of people out of work, businesses shuttered and the markets in free fall — all undermining Trump's reelection message — the chorus of backlash is growing louder, with Trump appearing to side with them.
"Life is fragile, and economies are fragile," Trump said, insisting he could protect both.
While he acknowledged there were trade-offs — "there's no question about that" — he claimed that, if closures stretch on for months, there would be "probably more death from that than anything that we're talking about with respect to the virus."
The comments were further evidence that Trump has grown impatient with the pandemic, even before it has reached its expected peak. In recent days, tensions have been rising between those who argue the country needs to get back up and running to prevent a deep economic depression and medical experts who warn that, unless more extreme action is taken, the human cost will be catastrophic.
"We can't shut in the economy. The economic cost to individuals is just too great," Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, said in an interview Monday on Fox News Channel. "The president is right. The cure can't be worse than the disease, and we're going to have to make some difficult trade-offs."
It's an opinion that has been echoed by others in the White House, some Republicans in Congress and on Fox, where host Steve Hilton delivered a monologue Sunday night that appeared to have, at least partially, inspired Trump's tweet.
"You know that famous phrase, the cure is worse than the disease? That is exactly the territory we're hurtling towards," Hilton told his viewers, describing the economic, social and human impact of the shutdown as an "even bigger crisis" than the virus.
"You think it's just the coronavirus that kills people? This total economic shutdown will kill people," he said, pointing to growing poverty and despair.
Trump, who for the last two weeks has largely allowed doctors to lead the administration's response, already seemed to be shifting in that direction.
"I'm not looking at months, I can tell you right now," Trump said Monday, when asked about easing federal recommendations urging Americans to limit social contact and stay home. He said states with large case loads could continue to enforce stricter measures, while other parts of the country return to work.
Trump tweeted that he would be waiting until the end of the current 15-day period of recommended closures and self-isolation to make any decisions, which would be March 30. At the same time Trump sent that message, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were exploring new guidance making it possible for people working in "critical infrastructure" jobs who have been exposed to the virus to return to work faster "by wearing a mask for a certain period of time," Vice President Mike Pence said.
It's a change in tone that is drawing criticism from public health experts, who suggested Trump risks making a dangerous mistake if he sets up a conflict between public health and the nation's economic well-being, given how unlikely it is that the threat posed by the virus will subside in another week.
If the U.S. stops social distancing too soon, "you will have more deaths and more dives in the stock market," warned Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University, a lawyer with extensive public health expertise.
And the outbreak could come surging back once people return to their normal routines of commuting, working, dining out and socializing — further stressing the economy.
John Auerbach, president of the nonpartisan Trust for America's Health, which works with governments at all levels to improve preparedness for public health emergencies, said widespread illness and death also have a powerful economic impact that's impossible to ignore or play down.
"If you don't flatten the curve and minimize those who are getting infected, the amount of sickness will cripple business," said Auerbach.
Even Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close Trump ally, urged Trump to stick with the advice of public health officials.
"There is no functioning economy unless we control the virus," he warned on Twitter. "Try running an economy with major hospitals overflowing, doctors and nurses forced to stop treating some because they can't help all, and every moment of gut-wrenching medical chaos being played out in our living rooms, on TV, on social media, and shown all around the world."
But Stephen Moore, a former Trump economic adviser, said it's time now "to start thinking about what kind of dramatic costs to society are we absorbing from the shutdown," including tens of millions unemployed and potential spikes in drug overdoses and suicides.
He said he has been urging his former colleagues to selectively open the economy in ways that minimize the public health risk with more testing and, for instance, taking people's temperature in public places, as they are now doing in other countries.
"There's no good solutions here. There's just bad solutions," Moore conceded. "And to me, the worst solution is to just grind our economy to a halt."
Other economists warned that if Americans return to work too soon, there could be recurring outbreaks that would only worsen a recession. But if the period of isolation continues for too long, there will be a steep cost in trying to restart and sustain economic growth.
Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at the consultancy RSM, said lifting restrictions after 15 days would be "potentially a profound policy mistake" because it could lead to a second or third wave of outbreaks that would do even more harm to economic growth.
"We got one shot to get this all right," Brusuelas said, noting that Trump has a great deal at stake personally, given the upcoming election in November. "The last thing one would want to do from an economic policy perspective is to elevate one's electoral interests above that of the economy or, most importantly, public health."
Analysts at Morgan Stanley estimated Monday that the economy will shrink at a record-breaking annualized pace of 30% in the second quarter. The unemployment rate would surge to 12.8% — the highest level ever in data that go back to the 1940s. But this forecast assumes the outbreak peaks in late April, after which there would be fewer reasons to restrict economic activity, and a sharp rebound would begin in the June-August quarter, leading to solid growth in 2021.
Austan Goolsbee, an economist at the University of Chicago and a former adviser to President Barack Obama, says there is no real tension between containing the outbreak and preserving the U.S. economy. He has repeatedly emphasized that halting the outbreak is needed so that growth can resume as companies feel comfortable hiring and consumers ramp up spending.
"Anything that slows the spread of the virus is by far the best thing to restore the economy," Goolsbee wrote on Twitter.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Worldwide, more than 375,000 cases have been reported, and while most people recover in weeks, more than 16,000 have died from the virus.
U.S. President Donald Trump has approved California's request for a presidential Major Disaster Declaration to bolster the most populous U.S. state's COVID-19 emergency response efforts, California Governor Gavin Newsom said Sunday.
The announcement came hours after Newsom sent a letter to Trump to request the action in response to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Earlier today we requested a presidential Major Disaster Declaration and this afternoon we got it," said Newsom in a statement. "The declaration will supplement our state's comprehensive COVID-19 surge planning and make vital resources available."
"We appreciate the quick response and partnership from the White House," he added.
The governor noted in his letter that "unfortunately, California has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19."
"Besides California being home to nearly 40 million people, which itself poses significant logistical issues few other states face, California partnered with the federal government in several extremely complex and challenging repatriation missions, which strained California's resources and impacted California's healthcare delivery system," Newsom wrote in the letter, adding that COVID-19 is rapidly spreading in the state day by day.
"The crisis is having wide-ranging impacts on families, communities, and in every sector of California public and private life," he explained.
The Major Disaster Declaration enables individual assistance programs to assist those affected by the outbreak and lessen its economic impacts, according to a statement of Newsom's office.
It allows for additional assistance, including but not limited to mass care and emergency assistance, crisis counseling, disaster case management, disaster unemployment assistance, disaster legal services and the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Newsom issued a Stay-at-Home order last week, asking all Californians to stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary to head out.
As restaurants across the country stacked chairs on tables and shut their doors to try to contain the deadly coronavirus, what would be the final visitors streamed into the Conservative Grounds coffee shop in Largo, Florida.
Fox News played on the televisions. Patrons posed for photos in a replica of the Oval Office. An 80-year-old man, defying officials' advice to stay home, beamed near a life-sized cutout of a grinning President Donald Trump.
This Trump-themed coffee shop embodies the right edge of the country's political divide. Outside its walls, state officials put in place an unprecedented shutdown of public life and Trump scrambled to fight a virus that he had accused political opponents and the media of pushing as a "new hoax." Criticism of the president's preparedness was rampant.
Inside, customers gave Trump an A-plus on his response to the spreading pandemic. "He's doing great things," the owner said Wednesday.
America has a history of unifying in trying times and rallying around the president. But after years of deep division, in the earliest, head-spinning days of the pandemic, a fractured electorate largely viewed Trump's performance through the lens they chose long ago. But the stakes are higher than they've ever been. The body count will rise; the economy will almost certainly crater. Trump's political fate may be left up to the sliver of moderates in the middle, who will choose whether to blame him for the crisis spiraling on his watch.
"This could be the coup de grace of his presidency. The way he handles this, history will judge, as well as the American people," said Brandon Brice, host of a radio show called "Straight Talk" in Detroit, who supported Trump in 2016 and is looking to how he handles this crisis before deciding if he will again. "This is the president's moment, right now."
Trump for weeks denied the seriousness of the outbreak when it first emerged in China. In January, he assured the nation that "we have it very well under control" and he compared the virus to the seasonal flu.
His supporters followed his lead: Surveys from early and mid-March found distinct differences in how Democrats and Republicans reacted. A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 36% of Democrats said they were very worried that they or family members would contract the virus, compared with 21% of Republicans.
Views on Trump's handling of the crisis are also shaded heavily by partisanship. A Gallup poll found 82% of Republicans expressed some confidence in Trump. Among Democrats, that number was just 12%.
Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, noted throughout Trump's presidency, his approval rating has hovered between 42% and 46%, with little change despite the endless cycle of controversy and chaos. Recent polling shows that has remained steady.
"Attitudes about the president, both pro and con, are deeply ingrained and almost impervious to the effect of news," he said. "Now, we've never had an event quite like this one."
For most people, the new virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority recover.
Globally, there have been more than 11,000 deaths from over 275,000 confirmed cases, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 200 deaths have been recorded in the U.S.
At another time, a president might have expected to see his popularity rise. Past presidents have seen their approval ratings jump in times of crisis, disaster or war. President Jimmy Carter's approval rating skyrocketed in the weeks after Americans were taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Iran. President George W. Bush was hailed for his unifying voice after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Trump this week abruptly turned to talking about the virus as a significant threat, and himself as a steady "wartime" leader. He shifted the blame to China and tried to rebrand Covid-19 as the "China virus."
But presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said the shift from skeptic to wartime president may be difficult for Trump. He compared the president's response with that of Republican President Herbert Hoover, who oversaw the Great Depression and dismissed the collapse of the stock market as exaggerated. When it proved disastrous, shantytowns came to be known as Hoovervilles. He was trounced in the next election by the Democratic governor of New York, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who then steered the nation through the depression and World War II.
"He started off a Herbert Hoover and he done a 180 trying to be FDR," Brinkley said. Voters in November will judge which one he is closer to being, he said, and some of that will be based on things now largely out of his control: how many die, how painful the economic fallout proves to be.
If the virus lingers through the summer, "he's going to be left holding the bad soundbites and being seen as the leader who failed us when the bell rang — he was missing in round one for a 10-round fight," Brinkley said.
"If it's contained, people will say he was slow out of the gate, but once he got on the job, he understood the magnitude of what was happening and did the right things, and he might skate by on a better-late-than-never approach."
David Ropeik, a retired Harvard instructor on risk communication, is even more skeptical of Trump's ability to reshape himself as a leader able to unify a profoundly polarized nation.
"There are just a whole bunch of people who aren't going to buy that," Ropeik said. "He can't change out of a MAGA hat into a general's helmet."
Ropeik said the most important thing for a leader in crisis is to be viewed as trustworthy — and the trust gap may be a crucial divide come November.
"This race is going to be determined by a bunch of swing voters in a handful of states. Those who are not the most devoted fans, who have any kind of slight ambivalence, this could well add to their mistrust," he said.
Donald Scoggins, a retired real estate broker in Virginia who describes himself as a moderate Republican, was leaning against voting for Trump before the virus hit. He said he's seen nothing so far to change his mind. Trump was too slow to react, Scoggins said.
"He's just too divisive. We need a person at the helm that people can rally around, we need a sort of cheerleader who makes people feel confident, that can bring people together," he said.
Brian Johnson, a Democrat and semi-retired corporate executive in Boulder, Colorado, is much hotter. He's watched Trump's reaction since January, worrying about his dismissal of the disease. Now he's infuriated with the president.
"Trump's never been double-digit approval rating for me, and now it's like, can you go lower than zero?" he said.
But across the country, in states critical to the outcome of the election, Trump's ardent supporters defended his actions and followed his lead to blame China.
In Luzerne County, a historically Democratic area in eastern Pennsylvania that flipped in 2016 to vote for Trump, Lynette Villano said she thinks the economy is resilient. It started from an extraordinarily high point, she said, and Trump deserves credit for giving the country the economic strength to be able to take the punch.
Villano, a billing clerk who wears a rhinestone Trump pin, has chronic lung disease and survived cancer twice. She recognizes she's among those at highest risk. She says she's not worried, she deeply trusts the president to look out for her, and she doesn't think it's time for political posturing and finger-pointing.
"If anything, this is going to show him as a strong leader who stepped forward and took every action possible to make things better," she said from her home, where she's waiting out the pandemic.
In Florida, the owner of the Trump-themed cafe posted a message on its Facebook page: "Those on the LEFT have fought for our downfall since day 1 and now the Corona 'CHINESE' VIRUS is impacting our business."
Owner Cliff Gephart said he fully supports Trump's handling of the crisis and trusts him to steer the country to calmer waters.
"Every decision the president makes, whether it's about coronavirus or about the economy or taxation. It seems like coronavirus is just another partisan, down party lines," he said.
One of his customers, 80-year-old George Latzo, said he wasn't concerned enough about the virus to abide the public warnings to avoid gatherings.
"I've lived a long healthy life and I don't know if this is going to be worse than the flu," said Latzo, who wore a Trump 2020 hat and a black t-shirt that said, "Donald Pump," depicting a muscular President Trump doing a bicep curl. "I guess we'll have to wait and see."
After being confined to a hotel room in Peru and watching "heavily armed guards" patrolling the streets, Linda Scruggs was awash with emotions Saturday when she glimpsed out the airplane window at the Florida Everglades below.
Scruggs and her traveling companion, Mike Rustici, were among dozens of American citizens who caught a LATAM Airlines flight to Miami after being trapped for days in the Peruvian capital of Lima. Like thousands of U.S. tourists and Americans living abroad, the couple was caught in limbo as nations closed their borders to try to stop the spread of the deadly new coronavirus. For days, the couple didn't know how or when they would make it home – especially after the State Department essentially told them they were on their own.
"I never had this feeling before even after 9/11," she said after the plane landed. "I was filled with gratitude, relief, concern and sadness that our country isn't doing more."
Scruggs and Rustici, both in their 40s and from Nashville, Tennessee, had flown to Peru with plans to hike Machu Picchu's complex of Inca ruins, but within days after they landed, Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra declared an emergency, ordering the country's borders closed.
They said they were only given about 24 hours' notice to leave Peru but couldn't find a flight. The virus has caused more than 12,000 deaths around the world, but the figure goes up every day as Americans in Morocco, Ecuador and other nations struggle to find a way home.
For most people, the new virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority recover.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that he is working to repatriate Americans. But Scruggs and Rustici said they got little help or information from the State Department, a sentiment expressed by Americans trapped in other countries. The State Department did not respond to messages seeking comment.
"I think we're still processing it," Rustici said. "A big mixture of relief and guilt, it's almost like survivor's guilt. We know that there are so many people still over there and we've been doing so much the last four or five days to get ourselves and everybody else out and we managed to do so because we're savvy travelers. We had the resources to keep moving and try a lot of things, but in the end, we just got really lucky."
Scruggs and Rustici were in the hotel room Saturday morning when they received an email from a local tour operator saying there might be seats on a flight from Lima to Miami. They paid $800 each and took a bus to the airport with other Americans trying to catch the same plane.
There were about 200 people waiting outside the airport when they arrived and a security guard took them inside, where they faced what Scruggs described as a "tense and chaotic" scene with long lines. Some Americans were accompanied by babies and children.
"When we arrived at the airport it was a bit of a chaotic scene, we were at a locked gate and it was still dark and there were some people, stranded travelers there sleeping with their luggage outside of the gate with desperate hopes, alongside some local homeless people all over there. It was a hard and little scary scene," Rustici said.
Shortly before noon, the couple boarded the plane.
Scruggs, a nurse, said some tourists in Peru are running low on life-sustaining medications like insulin and that some foreign college students trapped in the country were running out of money for food.
Desperate to get home, Scruggs and Rustici used social media to connect with hundreds of other tourists who were trapped in the country, trying to draw attention to their plight by reaching out to elected officials and reporters.
"I think everyone has been shocked at the lack of communication from the U.S.," Scruggs said.
Dora Figueiredo, 37, an American from Newark, New Jersey, was trying Friday to determine whether her flight from Argentina to the U.S. would leave as scheduled on Sunday.
She had traveled to Buenos Aires to marry her now-new Argentine husband who cannot yet move to the U.S. because he doesn't have U.S. residency, a process she said could take more than a year.
"I'm feeling a bit stressed out about how to get home now that the Argentinian president announced a lockdown as of midnight last night," she said. "I have been tweeting at my airline, my embassy at travel.gov about how to get back home."
As of Friday, her flight had not been canceled but she wasn't sure if that would still be the case Sunday and did not know how she would get to the airport.
"I really need to get home to check on my parents, who are elderly," she said.
Scruggs also needs to check on her mother, who's in a nursing home. And she's bracing herself for what's ahead. She knows America has changed so much in just the short period since she's been away. President Trump has declared a national emergency because of COVID-19. Schools have been canceled in many states. Other communities across the country are in lockdown. Still, when she got off the plane, she didn't sense the same urgency she did in Peru.
"There are more people in Peru wearing masks than here. Hotel workers, taxicab drivers, police, all airport staff. But hardly anybody in Miami had masks. There were no health checks," she said.