COVID-19: US braces for ‘9/11, Pearl Harbor moments’, warns top doctor

Washington: Americans are bracing for the “hardest and saddest” week of their lives with tragedies similar to the 9/11 attacks and the Pearl Harbour bombing, the country’s top doctor has warned while the death toll approached the 10,000-mark as President Donald Trump expressed hope that coronavirus cases were “levelling off” in major US hotspots.

Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome Adams’ remarks came a day after President Trump said that the next week is going to be a “very very difficult” time for the country.

He said the coronavirus pandemic rivals some of the darkest moments in the US history, including the two worst foreign attacks on American soil: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“The next week is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment. It’s going to be our 9/11 moment; it’s going to be the hardest moment for many Americans in their entire lives.

“And we really need to understand that if we want to flatten that curve and get through to the other side, everyone needs to do their part,” Adams told ‘Meet the Press’ Sunday talk show.

The death toll in the US due to coronavirus on Sunday crossed 9,500, which is three times more than the number of people who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

A total of 2,977 people besides hijackers were killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and America officially entered World War II, more than 2,400 casualties had occurred as a result of the attack.

More than 3.3 lakh Americans have been infected by coronavirus. Over 4,000 deaths have reported in the New York state only.

Members of the White House Task Force on COVID-19 have predicted between 100,000 to 200,000 lakh deaths in the next several weeks.

Peak in New York is expected in the next six-seven days, during which the US authorities are urging people to strictly enforce the social mitigation measures including social distancing.

Nearly 95 per cent of the country’s 330 million population are under stay-in-home orders.

“Ninety per cent of Americans are doing their part, even in the states where they haven’t had a shelter in place I wish every governor would encourage the people in their states to follow these guidelines for 30 days, that’s what I want. But I want them to do what they can within their states,” the Surgeon General said in a passionate plea to his countrymen.

In addition to declaration of a national emergency, President Trump has notified major disaster declaration in more than 42 of the 50 states.

“This is going to be a hard week, it’s going to test our resolve. It’s going to be the hardest week of our lives, but I’m confident based on the numbers in Washington and in California and Italy and in Spain, we can get through this, we will get through this. I know the American people will do the right thing and stay-at-home,” Adams said.

The US armed forces have deployed more than 50,000 of its soldiers, including 1,000 doctors and nurses in the fight against coronavirus. They have built or in the process of building 30 hospitals.

The US Navy has deployed two of its hospital ships – in New York and Los Angeles – to treat the rush of COVID 19 patients.

Meanwhile Trump, during a press briefing at the White House on Sunday, said the US has so far conducted 1.6 million tests, more than any other country.

“It really is an all-out military operation that we have waged and especially over the last number of weeks. Fifty states and territories have now been approved for major disaster declarations, which is very unusual,” Trump said.

As New York reported a drop in the number of new infections and deaths, Trump described the dip as a “good sign”, but warned of more deaths as the pandemic neared its “peak” in the US.

“In the days ahead, America will endure the peak of this pandemic,” he said, expressing hope that coronavirus cases were “levelling off” in US hotspots.

Reiterating his push for using Hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug in the fight against coronavirus, Trump said the US has procured some 29 million doses of Hydroxychloroquine tablets to be distributed across the country.

President Trump on Saturday said that he has sought help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow the sale of Hydroxychloroquine tablets ordered by the US to treat the growing number of coronavirus patients in his country, hours after India banned the export of the anti-malarial drug.

In the last seven days, Trump has told reporters that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has airlifted critical supplies and protective equipment from the every corner of earth.

“They are coming from all over the planet including from within the United States, where the equipment isn’t as necessary.

“Since last Sunday, cargo planes have delivered almost 300 million gloves, almost eight million masks and three million gowns. Similarly many more fully loaded cargo planes are right now on the way; three big ones landed today and these supplies are being distributed directly to the hospitals and healthcare providers all across the nation,” he said.

In a related development, Governor Jay Inslee announced on Sunday that Washington will be returning more than 400 ventilators from the federal government to help New York.

Washington recently purchased more than 750 ventilators that will arrive in the coming weeks.

“These ventilators are going to New York and others states hardest hit by this virus. I’ve said many times over the last few weeks, we are in this together,” Inslee said.

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