'Lord have mercy': Startling images show coronavirus crisis worsening in New York
In what is usually one of the most glamorous cities in the world, forklifts are being used to load dead bodies into the back of refrigerated trucks parked in the street.
As the coronavirus death toll rises, these are the scenes being filmed by journalists and passers-by as New York hospitals deal with one of the worst outbreaks of the deadly disease in the world.
In what’s been described as a grim ritual, workers in full protective gear load the bodies of those killed by COVID-19 into the back of lorries.
It’s been that way for days at Brooklyn Hospital Centre, the Associated Press reported, because the hospitals and permanent morgues have become overwhelmed with the number of dead.
As of early Wednesday afternoon (AEST) there were at least 1,550 COVID-19 deaths in New York, and more than 75,795 positive COVID-19 cases, of which 43,139 of those were in New York City.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency earlier said it was sending 85 refrigerated trucks to serve as temporary morgues.
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There were more than 10,900 people in New York hospitalised for COVID-19, with at least 2,700 in intensive care. That’s 500 more ICU beds than Australia has nationwide, according to a study published last week. Australia had 50 coronavirus patients in ICU, it was reported on Tuesday.
The Brooklyn hospital where bodies were filmed being loaded into trucks said in a statement that the “unprecedented crisis calls for extraordinary measures” and that extra storage is needed “to accommodate the tragic spike in deaths, placing a strain on the entire system of care — from hospitals to funeral homes.
“Grieving families cannot quickly make arrangements, and their loved ones who have passed are remaining in hospitals longer, thus the need for this accommodation.”
The scenes are reminiscent of those which took place in northern Italy less than two weeks ago when a procession of military trucks were called in to take away the growing piles of bodies.
Smartphone video posted on social media over the weekend drew attention to the scenes in Brooklyn.
“It’s hard to believe this, but this is for real,” said the man shooting the video, his voice quaking. “Lord have mercy, help us Lord, this is for real.”
There’s so many people dying in New York that they have to load the bodies into 18 wheeler trucks to haul away the victims of this “hoax”#Covid_19 #coronavirus #CoronaUpdate pic.twitter.com/kaQVDPocc6
— David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) March 30, 2020
US President Donald Trump was clearly rattled by the images coming out of New York hospitals during a press conference this week.
“To see the scenes of trailers out there and what they’re doing with those trailers — they’re freezers, and nobody can even believe it,” he said on Tuesday, local time.
The city medical examiner’s office has also started operating a makeshift morgue, as it did after the September 11 terror attacks.
Meanwhile as the city tries to ramp up the number of available hospital beds, a naval ship docked off Manhattan was expected to start accepting patients soon.
Trump: Prepare for a ‘hell of a bad two weeks’
President Donald Trump on Tuesday, local time, warned Americans to brace for a “hell of a bad two weeks” ahead as the White House projected there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US from the coronavirus pandemic even if the current social distancing guidelines are maintained.
Public health officials stressed that the number could be less if people across the country bear down on keeping their distance from one another.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said “this is a number that we need to anticipate, but we don’t necessarily have to accept it as being inevitable.”
Could Trump postpone the presidential election?
The US is due to go to the polls in November this year as Trump looks to win a second term in office.
While the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, continues to run something akin to a campaign via video link from his living room, some have speculated the US president could try to move the national election due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump, however, has done nothing to fuel the speculation even saying back on March 17 that he believes postponing elections amid the virus outbreak was “not a very good thing” and “unnecessary.” But that was also when the US president was still downplaying the severity pandemic in the US.
The fact is, Trump has no powers to postpone or move the federal election, the date of which is enshrined in constitutional law. Legal scholars in the US are widely in agreement on this point.
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Joshua Douglas, an elections law expert at the University of Kentucky says there’s no legal mechanism for Trump to alter the election date, and the Supreme Court would get involved
“There is absolutely no way Trump could unilaterally change it,” he told the ABC.
Any changes to the law that stipulates the timing of the election would need to begin the (Democratically controlled) US House of Representative and then be passed in the Senate.
While there could ultimately be a move to a greater number of postal votes, the election is all but certain to go ahead as expected.
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