Hospitals buckle under coronavirus crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted officials to transform Central Park in New York City into a mobile hospital to treat patients with COVID-19.
4:26 | 04/02/20

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Transcript for Hospitals buckle under coronavirus crisis
Dr. Jen will join us as well. First, we do want to get to the new developments. Confirmed cases of coronavirus are now topping 200,000 here in the U.S. The struggle for health care workers growing as hospitals are pushed to the brink. Whit Johnson starts us off near that field hospital in central park where they're now seeing patients. Good morning, whit. Reporter: Robin, good morning to you. For many new yorkers these are images in the pandemic that will be tough to forget. Their beloved central park, the urban escape now being used to treat patients with covid-19. We know of at least nine patients who spent the night here in those white heated tents behind me. That number only expected to rise as hospitals run out of space. This morning the mounting death toll in New York state alone topping 2,200 jumping by more than 650 in just 24 hours. Doctors on the front lines of the pandemic warning hospitals are increasingly overwhelmed. This is our E.D. You can see all the rooms are filled. Usually these halls are very neat and empty and now you can see there's patients everywhere because of this. It makes it very hard to work and we're trying our best to treat everyone we can. Reporter: In this video provided by mt. Sinai queens Dr. Matthew Bai taking us inside his emergency room showing the overflow of patients, medical workers doing everything they can. All these patients here sitting out in the hall ways because we are full. All these patients in the hallway have all been seen. Even though we're overflowing, trying our best to provide them care which we are doing. You can see here that the patients have oxygen tanks that they need. Reporter: First responders also bearing a heavy burden. ABC news obtaining this alarming copy of new cardiac emergency guidelines given to public and private ems teams in the new York City area telling crews if they can't get a pulse on their own, they should not transport the patient to the hospital. The state now bracing for the possibility that the fight could continue into summer. People say, well, when is it over? Two weeks, three weeks, four weeks? This model projects you're going to have a high death rate through July. If this model is correct, this could go through the summer. Reporter: Amid growing shortages, president trump saying the government's stockpile of medical equipment available is almost out. We're sending it directly to hospitals. We don't want it to come to the stockpile because then we have to take it. Reporter: According to "The New York Times," FEMA has sent out about 7,000 ventilators across the country but some states like California claiming dozens of those ventilators are arriving broken. The critical machines in short supply are keeping people alive. At new york-presbyterian hospitals nearly 27% of their coronavirus patients are on ventilators. And now a new concern, some hospitals reporting they are facing a shortage of oxygen because covid-19 patients hospitalized in respiratory distress often require supplemental oxygen. The problem with oxygen at this point with the covid-19 pandemic is that instead of having 20 patients in an icu, hospitals now have 300 patients all on ventilators that are consuming oxygen 24/7. This is a demand that we've never seen before. Throughout the United States or throughout the world. Reporter: On Wednesday, an emergency field hospital with 14 tents and 68 hospital beds in the middle of the city's iconic central park began seeing patient. We've responded internationally to ebola. We've been outside of a war zone in Iraq. This feels very surreal to be on our own soil to be here in the U.S. To see such a beautiful city impacted by this. But it doesn't change at all the need and our ability to help. Reporter: The NYPD reports about 17% of their uniformed members have called out sick. New York's governor Cuomo says in a worst case scenario they can bring in state police and officers from upstate to help fill that void if needed. All right, whit, thank you. Hopefully seeing those images will let everyone realize how serious this is and how important it is to stay home and make sure you socially distance yourself from others.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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