(CNN) – The next two weeks will be crucial in the United States’ fight against the coronavirus, warn health officials, who are urging Americans to continue practicing social-distancing measures.
A battle to stop the spread
As a result, Washington state will return more than 400 ventilators it received from the national stockpile to help other communities in need, Gov. Jay Inslee said.”These ventilators are going to New York and other states hardest hit by this virus,” Inslee said. “I’ve said many times over the last few weeks, we are in this together. This should guide all of our actions at an individual and state level in the coming days and weeks.”Washingtonians should still stay home, wash their hands and practice social distancing, the news release added.”People have been so beautiful to us,” Gov. Cuomo said. “And it is the New York way — we’re going to codify everything we’ve learned, and we get past this curve, whatever part of the country goes next, we will be there with equipment and personnel and however we can help.”
Holy Week in the time of coronavirus
Social distancing measures were complicated by the fact that Sunday marked the beginning of Holy Week in the Christian faith, which leads up to Easter.Churches around the country held Palm Sunday services, many of which were streamed online. But some held services in defiance of state bans.”We don’t get our rights to worship freely from the government. We get those from God,” said the Rev. Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he said more than 1,200 people gathered Sunday. “We’d rather obey God than man.”Spell was charged last week for violating the state’s ban.Meantime, the Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr. of Friendship Baptist Church in Baltimore said he had a steady stream of people walking through the church, processional style. He said he was careful not to have more than eight or nine in the building at a time.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters Sunday churches there were allowed to stay open, noting most churches are making services available online.”Churches by and large do the right thing. They want to protect their parishioners,” Hutchinson said. “There are a few that have a very small attendance and they socially distance. We don’t recommend that but if it’s within the guidelines then that’s understandable.”Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Sunday thanked religious leaders who held services online, calling it the “safest way to keep us all connected.””Let’s help us all stay safer at home during these religious holy days,” Gimenez said.Other religious holidays are soon to follow, with the beginnings of the Jewish holiday of Passover on Wednesday evening and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan later this month.
States are under siege
Several states have reported big jumps in cases, including Pennsylvania, which saw an increase of 1,494 cases, the governor’s office said Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 11,510.New Jersey reported another 3,482 cases on Sunday for a total of 37,505. At least 917 have died, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s office said.After “multiple” conversations with the White House, Murphy on Sunday said the state had secured an additional 500 ventilators. He called them the state’s No. 1 need.”We’re deeply grateful,” Murphy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Sunday evening, before adding, “It won’t be enough.””We’re going to have, I think, not just a tough week ahead, but I think a tough several weeks ahead,” Murphy said. “Whether it’s ventilators, personal protective equipment, beds, health care workers — those will all be constraints as we go through the next few weeks.”
A doctor from SOMOS Community Care prepares to test a patient at a drive-thru testing center for coronavirus.
Louisiana reported a 21% increase in cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 12,500 cases, according to the state health department.”We are still very much in this,” Dr. Joseph Kanter, assistant state health officer, said in a news conference. “In fact we haven’t even hit halfway.”New Orleans’ coroner’s office and mortuaries have reached their limit, said Mayor LaToya Cantrell, and she’s asked the federal government for additional refrigeration. Officials are responding to the influx by converting a convention center into an emergency hospital.close dialog
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday his state could run out of ventilators by the end of the week if cases continue to surge.”We now think it’s probably around the 9th of April before we exceed our ventilator capacity based on the current number on hand, and … we’re a couple of days behind that on ICU bed capacity being exceeded,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
CNN’s Melissa Alonso, Gregory Clary, Deanna Hackney, Christina Maxouris, Artemis Moshtaghian, Kristina Sgueglia, Theresa Waldrop and Sarah Westwood contributed to this report.