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US doctors 'shocked' by speed of coronavirus deaths as New York toll hits new high

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US healthcare workers wheel the body of deceased person from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, April 2, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid

US doctors and nurses are expressing shock at the speed of coronavirus-related deaths in the country, as patients, even without underlying conditions, are succumbing to the disease.

New York — the hardest-hit state — recorded 799 deaths on Wednesday, the highest number of fatalities in a single day.

This is while, authorities warned people to expect alarming numbers of coronavirus deaths this week.

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in New York state alone approached 150,000 over the past 24 hours.

Doctors and nurses working on the front lines of the war against the pandemic, say it isn’t just elderly or patients with underlying health conditions who appear to be fine one minute and at death’s door the next. It can happen for the young and healthy, too.

Patients “look fine, feel fine, then you turn around and they’re unresponsive,” said Diana Torres, a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

“I’m paranoid, scared to walk out of their room.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the flags flown at half-staff across the New York in recognition of the toll on Wednesday.

“Every number is a face,” he said. “This virus attacked the vulnerable and attacked the weak and it’s our job as a society to protect the vulnerable.”

The recent surge in the number of people dying at home in NYC, suggests the city may be undercounting how many have died of the respiratory illness.

“I think that’s a very real possibility,” Cuomo said.

The city has so far announced deaths from only laboratory-confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19. Authorities say more than 200 patients are dying at home in the city daily.

Despite the grim tally, Cuomo said that New York was “bending the curve” and gaining some control over the infection rate.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said 275 had died there. Both totals exceeded one-day records reported just a day earlier.

California also had one of its highest single-day death tolls with 68 people dying of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. The state may not see its infection curve flattening until the end of May, requiring weeks more of social distancing, Governor Gavin Newsom said.

The United States recorded nearly 2,000 novel coronavirus deaths for a second day in a row as of 8:30 pm Wednesday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The total number of US deaths topped 14,800 countrywide, with 43,200 people infected.

While President Donald Trump has boasted that his administration has tested more people for coronavirus than any other country, healthcare workers who are most at risk of contracting the illness, say they were experiencing symptoms of the disease, but couldn’t get tested.

In Michigan, one of the few hospital systems conducting widespread staff testing in the country, more than 700 workers tested positive for COVID-19 — more than a quarter of those tested.

Dr. Art Caplan, professor of bioethics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, described the continued test shortages as “scandalous” and a serious threat to the patients they treat.

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