A look inside the front lines of the outbreak

The battlefield in the war on the coronavirus is expanding into New York City’s Jacob Javits Convention Center, which is being turned into a hospital to house 1,000 patients.
6:50 | 03/24/20

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Transcript for A look inside the front lines of the outbreak
Good evening. Here we are beginning a new week together. The number of cases of coronavis growing quickly. The urgent pleas from help on the front lines tonight. And the U.S. Surgeon general saying it's going to get bad. The governor of the state of Florida asking passengers arriving, flying in from new York and New Jersey to self-quarantine for 14 days. In the U.S., more than 42,000 people sickened. By last count, at least 17 states have imposed the tight restrictions, closing businesses, telling people to work from home. And look at this tonight. Images of the empty streets across the country, now at a standstill. New York, Chicago, New Orleans, among those images. An empty terminal in Detroit. And a major disaster declared in New York, Washington. And the Navy hospital ship mercy on its way to Los Angeles. A second ship soon leaving for New York City. Testing still difficult to get. The long lines. This is just one snapshot from Miami gardens, Florida. The wait for results could take days. And the line of cars, this is not a testing site, but a food pantry in Dayton, Ohio. The National Guard helping to distribute food. So many families out of work. What is being done to help them? And the tweet from president president saying we can't let the cure be worse than the problem itself at the end of the 15-day period. What was the president suggesting? Tom llamas leading us off tonight. Reporter: Tonight, the battlefield in the war on the coronavirus expanding. New York's javits center, the city's convention facility, now being turned into a hospital. Hospital beds and ventilators being delivered. The National Guard on site. The goal here, to house 1,000 patients. Governor Andrew Cuomo ordering all hospitals to increase capacity by 50%. There are more than 20,000 people infected with coronavirus in New York. This is going to get much worse before it gets better. Reporter: The Pentagon readying ten field hospitals. At least two will arrive within 72 hours to Seattle in New York. And the governor of Florida issuing an executive order mandating anyone flying from in New York or New Jersey to self-isolate for 14 days. Hopefully that will be a deterrent for people. If you're trying to escape here to avoid the restrictions in your own state, that is probably not a good idea. Reporter: New York City now the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. Cuomo announcing his state will move forward with trials for a new drug therapy, the same one pushed by president trump. 10,000 doses of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine coupled with zithromax, also known as a zpack. Its effectiveness still unproven. We have a lot of very sick people right now in hospitals all over the place. And speaking with the governor of New York, Cuomo, I said, how does it look? He's got a lot of sick people. Reporter: And treating those sick people is leading to a shortage of supplies in some cases. We are short on ppe that a lot of folks are short on around the country, masks and face shields. We're filling up our icus. We have several floors now that are devoted only to covid-positive patients. Reporter: The chief of surgery at Columbia university warning in a memo to staff the hospital is burning through 40,000 masks every day. On a normal day, they use 4,000. Cornelia Griggs, a pediatric surgeon at that hospital and a mother of two. We're running into crisis situations, making the split decision. Am I going to run into this room to save this patient, or am I going to scramble and find a mask? Reporter: Governors calling on the federal government to push manufacturers to make needed supplies, something the president said days ago he was prepared to do. They legally have a tool called the federal defense production act. Use it. Reporter: Across the country, companies big and small doing what they can to help. These are our medical gowns that we are making here at Coleman knitting mills. Reporter: Coleman knitting mills in Utah is taking fabric from cheerleading uniforms to make gowns and masks for a nursing home group in Washington state. And testing for coronavirus still a problem in so many parts of the country. In New Jersey, some drivers turned away from a new drive-through facility before it even opened this morning. In Miami, long lines at a new testing site at hard rock stadium. The National Guard was giving tests to people 65 and older showing symptoms. A growing number of states ordering residents to stay home. But overnight, the president tweeting, we can't let the cure be worse than the problem itself. At the end of the 15-day period, we'll make a decision as to which way we want to go. America will again and soon be open for business. Very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. President trump just moments ago. Tom llamas with us live tonight in New York City. I know New York is bracing for a very long fight. It's going to take at least a week for the field hospital to be up and running? Reporter: That's right. A week to ten days. This is one of four facilities around the state that will deal with the overflow of patients. At first, this will house patients that don't have covid-19. If things get very dire, facilities like this one could house those patients. And the vice president made news acknowledging today that he's asked governors to reach out about devices that could be converted, that would help with a shortage of ventilators in this country? Reporter: That's right. It was an interesting headline. The vice president did this at FEMA headquarters. There's a device, according to the vice president, they can convert to a ventilator. There's tens of thousands of them right now in the public. David? Tom, thank you. Tonight, also dire warnings have authorities after too many

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

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