New York is the epicenter of our nation’s battle against COVID-19. Unfortunately, they’ve reported their highest number of deaths (562) in a single day. This brought the total number deaths in New York to 3,000, which is double what it was just three days ago. During this same period another 1,427 new people were admitted to hospitals with new infections, which was another one day high. Currently, there are more than 102,000 people in New York who are infected. This is almost as many people as Italy and Spain have, the two hardest-hit European countries. Across the country, the total number of coronavirus cases has exceeded 275,000 and over 7,000 total deaths have been recorded. Around the world, more than one million people had been infected and nearly 60,000 have died.
Due to the surge in cases, there are major concerns of how the healthcare systems in these areas will be able to take care of the influx of patients. In response, the governor of New York and the mayor of New York City have asked for medical staff and equipment from areas around the country that currently don’t have an outbreak to be sent to the area. Also, earlier this week, the governor unveiled an unprecedented plan for all of New York’s hospitals, whether public or private and upstate or downstate, to work together in a kind of single network. In addition, the Navy hospital ship, the U.S.N.S. Comfort, arrived in harbor this past Monday to increase the number of available beds. By the end of the week, there are early signs that these efforts are working.
Despite hoping that these measures will be enough, to prepare for the possible rise in deaths, New York City officials have distributed refrigerated trailers to overburdened hospitals since in-house morgues are filling up with bodies. In an easing of regulations, crematories are now allowed to run around the clock. A special team of 42 military mortuary affairs officers was starting to arrive from Virginia to help the City’s medical examiner.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Germany has been hit hard by COVID-19 with more than 100,000 laboratory-confirmed infections as of this past Monday. This is more than any other country except the United States, Italy and Spain. However, Germany has only had 1,584 deaths, which makes its fatality rate around 1.6 percent. This is significant when compared to 12 percent in Italy, almost 10 percent in Spain and close to 3 percent in the United States. Why?
Experts explain that there are several reasons for this. One important factor is that the average age of those infected in Germany is lower than in many other countries. This is significant since younger people are often healthier than older people. This means that they’re less likely to have serious complications.
Germany has been testing many more people than most other countries, which means they’re catching more people with few or no symptoms. This increasing the number of known cases, but not the number of fatalities. In mid-January, Charité hospital in Berlin had already developed a test and posted the formula online. By the time the first COVID-19 case appeared in Germany in February, laboratories across the country had built up a stock of test kits. This has allowed the spread of the virus to be slowed by isolating known cases while they are infectious. It has also enabled lifesaving treatment to be administered more quickly. This has helped to preserve the resources within the healthcare system. Part of testing has included tracking down individuals who’ve come into contact with an infected person and testing them. If necessary, these individuals and anyone they’ve come into contact with are placed in quarantine to be monitored and receive further testing.
Back in January, Germany had a high volume of intensive care beds equipped with ventilators with around 28,000 or 34 per 100,000 people. By comparison, that rate is 12 per 100,000 in Italy. Since then, all across Germany hospitals have expanded their capacities. Currently, there are 40,000 intensive care beds available. According to officials, they’ve created so much capacity that they’re now accepting patients from Italy, Spain and France.
Many experts see Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership as one reason the fatality rate has been kept low. She is a trained scientist and has communicated clearly, calmly and regularly throughout the crisis. This has been crucial as she has had to impose ever-stricter social distancing measures on the country. These restrictions have been vital to slowing the spread of the pandemic and have been met with little political opposition and are broadly followed.