Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn on front line of epidemic

Hot spots are growing in places like Washington, D.C., and Detroit despite glimmers of hope that social distancing is working.
7:11 | 04/09/20

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Transcript for Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn on front line of epidemic
Good evening. Great to have you with us this Wednesday night. The numbers are not any easier to share, America's death toll surpassing 14,000. In New York, at least 779 lives lost in 24 hours. The president expressing confidence that the U.S. Has enough ventilators to respond to th needs of the states. Saying it looks like the projections were right, and states are already well supplied. Which we're very happy about. Another 2,000 American lives lost since yesterday. And this animation put together by the "New York Times," charting the number of deaths since the first death in Washington state. You can really see all of the hot spots, the red from south Florida to Louisiana, Detroit, Chicago, of course Washington state and California. So much of this country fighting this. Tonight, we're on the front lines. In a New York City hospital, those recovery rooms turned into makeshift icus. St. John cathedral, setting up hospital beds. Much-needed supplies arriving in Detroit. In Miami, the convention center turned into a hospital with 450 beds. And the lines for food, this one at a food bank in ft. Lauderdale. And new model, with indications that because of the sacrifices Americans are making by staying home, social distancing is saving lives. The ultimate death toll could be lower, but they say we cannot relax. What we've done so far to slow this is working. We begin tonight as we get through it all again with you, with Tom llamas in New York. Reporter: Tonight, a rare glimpse at some of the toughest moments health care workers are facing every day in the war on the coronavirus. Dr. Daniel Nekola, an anesthesiologist tasked with keeping critically ill patients from dying. We are face to face with these patients who are breathing rapidly, coughing, producing sputum. And we need to put the breathing tube to properly oxygenate them and keep them alive. Reporter: And if that sounds difficult, there are even tougher moments. Maimonides hospital in Brooklyn bringing us into a makeshift icu. That's Dr. Nekola on the phone informing someone their loved one, who they likely haven't seen for days, is not doing well. Dr. Nekola ripping off his mask. He needs a moment away from the chaos, from the sadness. One of the parts of our job is delivering bad news to patients. Honestly it's one of the more psychologically exhausting parts of the job. So telling someone that their family member may not make it, it really does, it take a lot. Reporter: A nurse telling us about the viciousness of the disease. I was one of the people that said, "This is fake. This is not real. This is gonna be fine. We'll get over it. This is the flu." It's not the flu. This is so far from the flu. Reporter: The death toll in New York state climbing to a record level. 779 in just the last day. The bad news isn't just bad. The bad news is actually terrible. Highest single day death toll yet. The number of deaths will continue to rise as those hospitalized for a longer period of time pass away. Reporter: But still, every day there are encouraging signs. Fewer new patients are heading to hospitals. And new hospitals are popping up including this one inside the country's largest gothic cathedral. This is St. John the divine and it looks completely different. First of all, you notice the rows of chairs are gone and that white hospital tent underneath the Easter decorations. Remember, they were getting ready for holy week. The plan is to have 10 to 20 hospital tents stretching all through here, right up to the high altar. They hope to have hundreds of hospital beds to treat any patients that need the care. And in another corner of the church, we see this. The chapel, hospital beds spread out everywhere. The cathedral has always been a place for spiritual healing. And now it's being used as a place for physical healing, Reporter: In New York, 41 transit workers killed, 1,500 infected with the virus. Melody aravena's husband Rolando was a communications field technician sent to a New York hospital to help prepare for the surge. A week later, he was sick. If he had to die to save other people's lives, you know, I'm going to try to make amends with that. Reporter: Rolando passing away on his twin daughters' 10th birthday. Melody remembering their last words to each other on facetime. He just looked at me and he said, "Mel, I never knew a love like this before. And I love you so much." Reporter: In the wake of so much loss, signs of hope that social distancing is working. The university of Washington projecting a lower national death toll over the coming months. 60,415 deaths by August 4th. Deaths peaking on April 12th. What's really important is that people don't turn these early signs of hope into releasing from the 30 days to stop the spread. It's really critical. And you can see the delay, so if people start going out again and socially interacting, we could see a very acute second wave very early. Reporter: But around the country, hot spots still growing in places like Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Louisiana, Chicago, Detroit, and Pennsylvania. Florida, which issued its stay at home order weeks after other states, is now seeing a surge in cases. The governor announcing they are turning their convention center in Miami beach into the area's third field hospital. Tom with us again tonight. I know you're inside the cathedral of St. John the divine. It's holy week, normally they would be preparing for Easter. Instead, preparing for the beds. And now supplies have arrived? Reporter: Yes, and you can see the white hospital tent. This just went up today. You mentioned it's holy week. Underneath the Easter decorations, we see a lot of things on this job. But that field hospital in central park and now this, these are things you think you would never see in New York City. But it speaks to the times that we're living in. The reverend says we're praying for you and we're going to take care of you. Tom, thank you. Of course, the toll on American families in this country.

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

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