New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has pleaded for medical supplies, warning Covid-19 is spreading in his state faster than “a bullet train”.
“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.”
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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.
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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.