Coronavirus: U.S., Europe hunt for medical supplies as COVID-19 spreads

The hunt for ventilators and other medical supplies consumed the U.S. and Europe on Monday, as new coronavirus infections soared and political paralysis stalled efforts for a quick aid package from Congress. Asian markets and U.S. futures both sank as more governments tightened restrictions to fight the pandemic.

Fears grew that densely crowded New York could become one of the world’s biggest coronavirus hotspots, prompting cancellations of everything from play dates to picnics in the park to pickup basketball games. The city’s mayor said hospitals were 10 days away from shortages in “really basic supplies” that seriously endangered both health care workers and patients.

“If we don’t get the equipment, we’re literally going to lose lives,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN.

A surge in infections has caused a critical shortage of medical supplies in many places. Spain erected a field hospital in a convention center. British health workers pleaded for more gear, saying they felt like “cannon fodder.” U.S. President Donald Trump ordered mobile hospital centers be sent to Washington, California and New York.

Health care workers have said they were being asked to reuse and ration disposable masks and gloves. A shortage of ventilators, crucial for treating serious cases of the virus, has become critical.

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