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A M Reid
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) officially declared a state of emergency in the city in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus. The move will allow him to enforce more draconian measures if he feels they are needed, such as closing public transit, rationing supplies and imposing curfews.
He said the city, although currently only has 95 confirmed COVID-19 cases, is predicted to escalate to 1,000 cases by next week, and he suggested the pandemic will impact everyday life for around six months.
The mayor signed the declaration of emergency after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) banned mass gatherings of more than 500 people across the state. Blasio emphasized that “going to this level is not done lightly” but is now necessary to help delay the spread and protect those most vulnerable to the virus. He warned citizens that there will likely be product shortages and many businesses may shut down. He compared the situation to “fighting a war…without enough ammunition.”
The restriction on mass gatherings also means most large attractions and venues will shut, including Broadway theaters which closed yesterday; a major tourist-attracting industry that grossed nearly $2 billion last season.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaking on the Fox News Fox and Friends Friday, noted that “although things are going to get worse before they get better, we will handle it if we pull together as a nation and do the kinds of things that would blunt that effect.”
Even though the city is not currently in lockdown, Dr. Fauci warned that it could be possible as “you never take anything off the table when you’re dealing with protecting the health of the American public.” However, he hopes that “these draconian moves of actually locking down a city” do not happen, and stressed that lockdown is a last resort.
During the talk show, Dr. Fauci also addressed that while current panic and anxiety about the pandemic are likely “out of proportion” to the reality, it is understandable why people are concerned, but “you deal with it by action, not by fear.”
So far in the U.S., there are now approximately 1,700 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with the death toll being at least 40. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that in the worst-case scenario, where mitigation efforts are not taken, between 160 and 214 million U.S. citizens may end up becoming infected, and as many as 200,000 to 1.7 million deaths.
However, with mitigation efforts now occurring around the United States, it is unlikely cases and deaths will reach these high numbers. Dr. James Lawler, a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, provided his own worst-case scenario prediction recently, estimating that there could be up to 96 million cases and 480,000 deaths.
Democratic presidental hopeful Bernie Sanders also commented that the coronavirus outbreak may see more deaths than World War II.
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