New York Governor Says Virus Is Spreading like 'Slow-Moving Hurricane' Across US. More than 6,000 Are Dead
(CNN) With more than 6,000 deaths from coronavirus, US health officials and state leaders across the country are urging a stronger response to the outbreak.
In New York, where 2,473 people have died from the virus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state has about six days left before it runs out of ventilators.
"It's like watching a slow-moving hurricane across the country, where you know the path that it's taking," the governor said Thursday. "Why not deploy the national resources and just stay ahead of the hurricane?"
At least 245,646 Americans have been infected, and all states but Wyoming have reported deaths.
At this point, all states should issue stay-at-home orders, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"I don't understand why that's not happening," Fauci said during a CNN town hall Thursday. "If you look at what's going on in this country, I just don't understand why we're not doing that ... We really should be."
Though President Donald Trump has said he does not plan to issue a nationwide stay-at-home order, nearly all states have done so. The 10 that have not are: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
To slow the numbers' rise, the nation's top experts -- who have predicted at least 100,000 Americans may die -- say aggressive social distancing measures are now more important than ever.
Looking at the country's pace of new infections, it's clear not every American is following federal social distancing guidelines, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Thursday night.
"We're only as strong as every community, every county, every state, every American following the guidelines to a T," Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator said Thursday.
Like other countries, the US can slow the spread, she said. "But it means everybody needs to take that same responsibility."
CDC sets advice for returning to normal
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends communities be evaluated for four consecutive weeks and demonstrate three achievements before starting to return to normal life, according to a senior federal health official who has seen the guidelines submitted to the White House coronavirus task force.
Those recommendations require communities demonstrate a decrease in cases and deaths; a decrease in Covid-19-associated hospitalizations while keeping the capacity to care for the sick; and the public health capacity to investigate and control the virus.
Tracking the spread of coronavirus
It's unclear if the White House task force has approved those recommendations or when the measuring of those benchmarks would begin. But they appear to be in line with Trump's announcement this week to extend federal social distancing measures for 30 days.
CNN has reached out to the CDC about the recommendations multiple times but has not received a response.
Additionally, other guidelines submitted to the task force by public health experts include "no new cases for 14 days" and "the ability to detect new clusters" for certain parts of community life to resume, according to the source.
Virus can be spread through breathing, experts say
New federal guidelines are also expected soon on wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the virus, Trump said Thursday, adding that the guidance won't require all Americans to use face coverings.
"I don't think they'll be mandatory because some people don't want to do that," he said, adding that Americans who do want to wear face coverings can "decide for themselves."
Trump's announcement came a day after a panel of experts told the White House that research shows coronavirus can be spread not just by sneezes and coughs but also by talking and possibly breathing.
"While the current (coronavirus) specific research is limited, the results of available studies are consistent with aerosolization of virus from normal breathing," according to a letter written by Dr. Harvey Fineberg, chairman of a committee with the National Academy of Sciences.
Masks should not, however, replace social distancing, Fauci said on Fox News' "Fox & Friends" Friday morning.
"The most important thing is to keep this 6-foot physical distance from individuals," he said, adding he recognizes there are scenarios in which that's not possible.
"Because of some recent information that the virus can actually be spread even when people just speak as opposed to coughing and sneezing, the better part of valor is that when you're out and you can't maintain that 6-foot distance to wear some sort of facial covering," Fauci said.
"So, this is an addendum and an addition to the physical separation," he added, "not a substitute for it."
New guidance for reducing the spread of the virus in long-term care facilities was also issued Thursday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in consultation with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It includes screening staff for symptoms and starting temperature checks, as well as instructing staff members to wear face masks when inside facilities.
Residents should cover their noses and mouths when staff are in their room, the guidance indicates. "Residents can use tissues for this," it states. "They could also use cloth, non-medical masks when those are available."
New York City's EMTs face tough decisions
In New York, the hardest-hit part of the country, an influx of emergency medical facilities has been aimed at relieving an overwhelmed health system.
Those include the USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship that docked in New York Harbor to treat non-Covid-19 patients. But on Thursday night, reports emerged only 20 patients were on the ship, despite its 1,000-bed capacity.