Top American military generals say the US Defense Department is monitoring coronavirus infection trends in several cities and states with concern and considering where to deploy troops, as the sum of known US infections climbed well past 100,000, with more than 1,600 dead.
US Air Force General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday the military was conducting its own analysis as well as studying data on infections gathered elsewhere in the US government.
“There’s a certain number of places where we have concerns and they’re: Chicago, Michigan, Florida, Louisiana,” Hyten told a group of reporters at the Pentagon.
“Those are the areas that we’re looking at and trying to figure out where to go next.”
But Hyten warned that the US military only had limited medical capacity in the country and would have to utilize the reserve forces.
US President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order authorizing the Defense Department to mobilize military reservists to active duty, the White House said.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States reached 100,040 on Friday, the highest number in the world, a Reuters tally showed.
Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, the commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, said Friday said his agency was looking at potentially converting 114 facilities in the United States into hospitals.
The Pentagon is already deploying field hospitals to New York and Seattle.
Semonite also said he continued to be concerned about Michigan, Florida and Louisiana and had spoken with the governor of Louisiana.
New Orleans, Louisiana’s largest city, is on track to become a coronavirus epicenter in the US due to its higher than average rates of poverty, obesity and chronic disease, as well as lack of healthcare and affordable housing.
The number of known coronavirus cases in Louisiana jumped to 2,305 on Thursday, an increase of 510 cases from Wednesday, and a total of 83 deaths, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
About half of Louisiana's coronavirus cases and deaths came from New Orleans.
At some US hospitals, drugs, catheters, oxygen tanks run low
Health workers in US hospitals are reporting dwindling stocks of drugs, catheters, ventilators and other medical equipment critical for treating a surge in patients sickened by the coronavirus pandemic.
A doctor who works in emergency rooms around New York City, said a number of commonly used medications are in short supply, and at least one hospital had run out of central line kits, which are used to administer drugs to patients in intensive care.
“Never ever before have I heard of that being an issue,” MarneyGruber said in an interview with Reuters on Friday. “These are staples in emergency medicine and ICUs. These are your bread and butter, truly, your very basic essentials.”
One emergency room doctor in Michigan, an emerging epicenter of the pandemic, said he was using one paper face mask for an entire shift due to a shortage and that hospitals in the Detroit area would soon run out of ventilators.
“We have hospital systems here in the Detroit area in Michigan who are getting to the end of their supply of ventilators and have to start telling families that they can’t save their loved ones because they don’t have enough equipment,” the physician, Dr. Rob Davidson, said in a video posted on Twitter.