President Donald Trump says the United States is heading into what could be its "toughest" weeks as coronavirus cases swell nationwide and warned states not to inflate their needs for critical medical equipment.
"There will be a lot of death, unfortunately. There will be death," Trump said in a sombre start to his Saturday briefing on the pandemic.
Trump was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, virus task force coordinator Dr Deborah Birx, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government's foremost infection disease expert. Each stood far apart from one another on the small stage.
"We're going to be adding a tremendous amount of military to help," Trump said.
He added that 1000 military personnel were being sent to New York City, including military doctors and nurses.
The goal was to stay several days ahead of critical medical needs in each state. But he also suggested that states were asking for more medical supplies than they really needed.
"The fears of the shortages have led to inflated requests," Trump said.
Louisiana officials have said New Orleans is on track to run out of ventilators by next week. Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state is at the epicenter of the national pandemic with over 113,700 confirmed cases as of Saturday morning, has pleaded for ventilators for days and lambasted what he has said is insufficient help from the federal government. New York is poised to get more than 1100 ventilators from China and Oregon.
Trump also revisited a familiar message, saying he wants to get the economy up and running as soon as possible. At one point during the unfolding outbreak, Trump said he had hoped to open up businesses by Easter, April 12. He later acknowledged that was not possible, ceding the month of April after seeing rising death toll projections.
"We have to vanquish the virus as quickly as we can. ... We have to get back to work," he said.
The number of people infected in the US has exceeded 300,000, with the death toll climbing past 8100; more than 3500 of those deaths are in New York.
Much of the country is under orders to stay home, including professional sports leagues that were among the first to clamp down in the pandemic.
Australian Associated Press