US hospitals brace for influx of coronavirus cases

As cases rise, FEMA will set up medical centers in New York, California and Washington, the three states with the most cases, and health care workers sounded the alarm about dwindling supplies.
6:09 | 03/23/20

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Transcript for US hospitals brace for influx of coronavirus cases
Major cities virtually shut down, and take a look at the usual hustle and bustle we're used to seeing here in times square which is the center of the center. Well, it was deserted over the weekend and it's a similar sight across the country. Hollywood boulevard, that street normally packed with tourists now empty as well and you can actually see the stars on the Hollywood walk of fame. America has changed for now, no question about that. New York and California, two of at least 11 states that have implemented state-wide closures of all nonessential businesses. The U.S. Now has 33,000 confirmed cases, the third most in the world, ranked behind only China and Italy. The death toll has now topped 400. The senate failed to move forward that massive coronavirus stimulus bill. Those associations continue today, and Kentucky Republican Rand Paul became the first U.S. Senator to test positive for coronavirus. Two other senators who he had contact with are in self-quarantine. That's starting to raise questions about whether congress is going to be able to do their work. Health care workers on the front lines are sounding the alarm, bracing for the worst of the outbreak. The E.R. Doctor calling for action whose face book post over the weekend is standing by. We begin with Tom I am mass here in times square. Reporter: Good morning. The virus spreading in so many parts of the country as governors who have issued those state-at-home mandates are finding them harder and harder to enforce. And right here in New York City, mayor De Blasio declaring new York City the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. This morning, America at war with the coronavirus and president trump telling the nation, quote, the enemy is attacking. There's never been anything like this, and it's vicious. It is vicious. Reporter: And now, following an S.O.S. From governors that more hospital beds will be needed, the president announcing FEMA will be setting up medical centers in the three states with the most coronavirus cases. New York being supplied 1,000 beds, 2,000 in California, and 1,000 in Washington. Additionally, the Navy's hospital ship "The mercy" expected to arrive in los Angeles this week to help local hospitals but will not treat covid-19 patients. Another hospital ship "The comfort" dispatched to New York to assist in the efforts in the coming weeks. This as some health care workers are still sounding the alarm about their dwindling supplies. It's a scary time to be a doctor in America and especially in New York. Reporter: Internal memos written by Columbia university's chief surgeon, Dr. Craig Smith, say that his hospitals have seen a 50% increase in coronavirus patients, burning through 40,000 masks every day, adding that officials predict the number of cases might not even peak for another 32 days. And some doctors stunned when the CDC posted on their site health care professionals should use a bandana or a scarf along with with a face shield as a last resort when face masks are no longer available. But the CDC also noting the effectiveness of doing so is unknown. E.R. Dr. Joshua Lerner posting on Facebook, comparing the CDC's suggestion to, quote, sending a soldier to the front line in a t-shirt and flip-flops. Companies like 3M saying they're ramping up production of those critical n95 respirator masks. Haines retrofitting their factories to produce cotton masks. And apple and Tesla donating masks from their factories. This as testing is increasing but not nearly to the level that's needed. These long lines are proof. In New Jersey, a massive rush to get tested at this drive-through facility started at 4:30 A.M. This weekend, but it closed just 30 minutes after opening. They hit capacity. Medical professionals now advise those only with severe cases get tested, meaning those that are hospitalized, symptomatic health care workers, seniors, especially those in long-term care facilities or those with pre-existing conditions. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infection disease specialist, saying not every American needs to get tested. When you go in and get tested, you're consuming personal protective equipment, masks and gowns. Those are high priority for the health care workers who are taking care of people who have coronavirus disease. Reporter: And across the country, local governments are trying to encourage, even enforce stay at home measures. These images show some are ignoring the warnings. Crowded beaches in California, boat parties in Florida, and this video showing a crowded new York City park. Some governors outraged. It's insensitive. It's arrogant. It's self-destructive. It's disrespectful to other people. And it has to stop and it has to stop now. Time to grow up. Time to wake up. Time to recognize it's not just about the old folks, it's about your impact on their lives. Don't be selfish. Reporter: And overnight, South Carolina mom Courtney daouster speaking to "Gma" after her 7-month-old son Emmitt tested positive for covid-19. My mom also tested positive for covid-19 over a week ago. His first symptoms were a dry cough and a runny nose he had for well over a week before he even started a fever. His fever started on Monday afternoon and it quickly escalated to over 104 so we just want parents to take this seriously. Reporter: I can't imagine what that mother is going through right now with her baby. We also want to mention the vice president says the CDC is expected to announce new guidelines on when people who have been exposed to the virus can return to work. The vice president hinting it would involve wearing a mask to work, but robin, as we know, there are so many across this country that now have no job to go back to. That's true, Tom. All right, thank you.

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

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