US hospitals report spike in incoming patients

A number of states say that while they've received coronavirus tests, they lack the appropriate protection to keep staff safe while administering them.
4:22 | 03/17/20

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Transcript for US hospitals report spike in incoming patients
A reality check. And at least two emergency room doctors on the front lines of the outbreak now testing positive. More drive-through testing sites are becoming available, but doctors saying they lack the protective equipment they say they need to have to stay safe. And the threat to so many on the front lines, because many who have the virus have no symptoms. Here's Matt Gutman tonight. Reporter: Tonight, America's hospitals and health care workers under siege. Emergency room doctor James Pruden testing positive for coronavirus. The 70-year-old is now in isolation in Patterson, New Jersey. And tonight at the life care center in Washington, 46 employees testing positive. In another emergency room, another doctor is positive. Multiple workers at Brigham and women's have now tested positive for covid-19. Hospitals around the country now reporting both a spike in incoming patients and a shortage of critical protective equipment. Crucial to protect themselves. Hospitals scrambling to prepare for the onslaught. Setting up tents outside emergency rooms. New York governor Andrew Cuomo calling on president trump to mobilize the military to build more hospitals. You will overwhelm the hospitals. You will have people on gurneys in hallways. That is what is going to happen now if we do nothing. Reporter: Another critical matter -- testing. People lining up in cars for drive-throughs. Vice president pence repeatedly saying more tests will be available. By the weekend, another million tests will be shipped around the country. Reporter: But it's not as simple as just sending out the tests. The health care workers need to be in full protective gear. Testing numbers are also lagging. New York has conducted roughly 7,000 since the outbreak. North Carolina public labs have only done about 300. In South Korea, where cases flattened, 275,000 tests have been conducted. Now even creating "Phone booth" Donovan Mitchell is an NBA player with the Utah jazz. He is isolated after becoming infected. His case highlighting the need for more testing. I don't have any symptoms. That's the scariest thing about this virus, is that you may seem fine, be fine, you never know who you may be talking to and who they are going home to. Reporter: Even those who do get tested are having problems. Amanda phommachanh says her husband titou's first test got lost and they had to complain to their governor before getting a second test, which was positive. We still don't have the original test result that was sent out Thursday, which is absolutely mind-boggling. These tests have got to be prioritized based on severity and acuity of these cases. Something is very, very wrong. I understand that everyone is learning as they go with this, but people who are in critical condition need those test results quickly. They don't have time to wait. Reporter: He's now in a Virginia icu in critical condition. We need to get those tests and results back quicker than we're seeing so far. Matt, we see the triage tents behind you. But you're hearing there's confusion with the private labs? Obvious kinks ahead here. Reporter: That's right. Labs are saying people are calling in thinking they can get tested at the labs. But they can't, the labs are just there to run the results and get the results for a swab. The swabs are taken by medical professionals like the ones behind me, and not everyone can get tested right now. It's just health care workers, first responders, and the people who are most vulnerable. Matt. Thank you. And this evening, the French president saying we are at war. And the alarming news headline

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

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