The US Defense Department has warned that the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak in the country could continue for months and the American military would continue to support efforts to counter the COVID-19 crisis.
The highly contagious disease could last for “a period of months,” US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday when asked how long the outbreak may last and how long the military would continue the support efforts to counter it.
“I think we need to plan for this to be a few months long at least and we’re taking all precautionary measures to do that,” the Pentagon chief added.
The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 720 people and infected over 55,000 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
US health experts have sharply rebuked President Donald Trump’s administration for initially downplaying the crisis and lagging behind in testing efforts.
On Monday, Esper announced more security restrictions on those entering the Pentagon. He said that Defense Department employees teleworking should expect to continue to do so for “weeks for sure, maybe months.”
Separately, US General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the outbreak could last into July, citing models from the experience of other countries.
“If it does apply, you’re looking at probably late May, June, something in that range, could be as late as July,” Milley said.
Three sailors on board US aircraft carrier have coronavirus
A US Navy officials said Tuesday three American sailors on board the Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean have tested positive for the coronavirus, underscoring the impact the virus was having on the US military.
US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told a news conference at the Pentagon that the three had been quarantined and were being flown off the ship.
Trump, New York state governor clash over federal response to virus
New York State has become the US epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic, overwhelming hospitals after suffering another quick and brutal rise in the number of cases on Tuesday, as California said it could be facing the next major wave of the disease.
Trump and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have attacked each other over the federal response to the coronavirus crisis in the hard-hit state.
Speaking on Tuesday at his daily news conference, Cuomo expressed frustration that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was sending his state 400 ventilators from a national reserve when he needed 30,000 to treat the rising number of coronavirus victims.
“You want a pat on the back for sending 400? We need 30,000,” said Cuomo. “The rate of new infections is doubling every three days” in New York and threatening to overwhelm hospitals, he added.
Trump, who like Cuomo was born and raised in New York City, dismissed Cuomo’s complaints.
The president said during a Fox News interview that Cuomo “should have ordered the ventilators” in previous years before the outbreak, adding that the federal government is taking steps to help New York, including building temporary hospitals.
Trump says restrictions will lead to thousands of deaths
Speaking at the same Fox News interview, Trump said the coronavirus restrictions, which have halted businesses in many places across the country, could themselves lead to suicides or other fatalities, citing no evidence to support the claim.
“You’re going to lose more people by putting a country into a massive recession or depression. You’re going to lose people. You’re going to have suicides by the thousands,” the president said.
Trump administration sows confusion over emergency measures to combat coronavirus
Meanwhile, the Trump administration continued to sow confusion over the use of a decades-old emergency law to acquire coronavirus test kits amid severe shortages of testing supplies, ventilators, masks and other equipment for medical workers fighting the highly contagious disease.
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told CNN Tuesday the White House had decided to use the so-called Defense Production Act of 1950 to obtain 60,000 coronavirus test kits, the first time the act has been used to confront the coronavirus crisis.
But Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, said in comments on Fox News that it has not been necessary to put the emergency measure to use.
Trump, Congress agree on $2 trillion virus rescue bill
US Senate leaders of both parties and the White House announced an agreement Wednesday on unprecedented emergency legislation to provide assistance to companies, workers and medical centers overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The urgently needed pandemic response measure is the largest economic rescue measure in US history and is intended as a weeks- or months-long patch for an economy spiraling into recession and a nation facing a potentially ghastly toll.