NEW YORK (AP) – New York state moved to join California on Friday in confining nearly all residents to their homes, as governors undertook their most sweeping efforts yet to contain the coronavirus and fend off the kind of onslaught of patients that has caused southern Europe to buckle.
“We’re going to close the valve, because the rate of increase in the number of cases portends a total overwhelming of our hospital system,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as cases in the state climbed to more than 7,000 and the death toll reached at least 38.
Cuomo said that starting Sunday, all workers in nonessential businesses must stay home and all gatherings of any size will be banned in the state of more than 19 million people. The move came after California all but confined its 40 million residents in the biggest lockdown in the nation.
The increasingly drastic measures in the U.S. came as gasping patients filled the wards of hospitals in Spain and Italy, and the global death toll surpassed 10,000, with the virus still multiplying and gaining footholds in new corners of the world.
The World Health Organization noted the epidemic’s dramatic speed.
“It took over three months to reach the first 10,000 confirmed cases and only 12 days to reach the next 100,000,” the U.N. health agency said.
Across the U.S., governors and public health officials watched the crisis from afar with mounting alarm and warned of critical shortages of ventilators, masks and other protective gear.
Countries frantically prepared for a deluge of patients in the coming weeks.