In the farming community of Vidalia, Georgia, Dr. Robert Wagner said medical staffers at his emergency room are wearing face masks for their entire 12-hour shifts and changing in and out of full protective gear every time they see people considered a potential coronavirus
case — all while dealing with a regular flow of patients injured in car crashes and suffering chest pains or other maladies.
They are testing an increasing number of patients for the virus and worried that the 50-bed Meadows Regional Medical Center could eventually become overwhelmed.
“There's definitely this underlying fear in the community. You can see it,” he said.
In Washington, negotiators from Congress and the White House resumed top-level talks on a ballooning $1 trillion-plus economic rescue package, urged by President Donald Trump to strike a deal to steady a nation thoroughly upended by the coronavirus
Trump continued to strike a confident tone about the nation's ability to defeat the pandemic soon, even as health leaders nationwide acknowledged that the US is nowhere near the peak for the outbreak.
“We are going to be celebrating a great victory in the not too distant future,” he said.
The contagion is starting to be felt in US cities far from major metropolitan areas, including places that have resisted drastic shutdown measures.
About 150 countries now have confirmed cases, and deaths have been reported in more than 30 American states. There are now more than 300,000 confirmed cases worldwide, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.
For most people, the new coronavirus
causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
In Italy, local authorities in the hard-hit northern regions have been pleading with the national government to enact stricter measures. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte told the nation he was tightening a lockdown and shutting down all production facilities except those providing essential goods and services. He cautioned citizens to be calm and patient, saying there is no alternative.
“Our sacrifice in staying home is minimum compared to that of other citizens trying to keep the nation well and functioning,” he said in a Facebook address.
Russia's Defense Ministry said it was ready to fly mobile medical teams and disinfection equipment to Italy, and a plane delivered more than 100 tons of supplies from China to the Czech Republic as part of a NATO program.
Behind China and Italy, Spain now has the third-highest number of infections worldwide, followed by the U.S.
Spanish health authorities have acknowledged that some intensive care units in the hardest-hit areas are close to their limit. The army was building a field hospital with 5,500 beds in a convention center in Madrid, where hotels are also being turned into wards for virus patients without serious breathing problems.
Colombia reported its first death from COVID-19 on Saturday. The patient was a 58-year-old taxi driver who had driven tourists from Italy, authorities said adding that man had previous health issues, including untreated diabetes.
President Ivan Duque has prohibited all non-resident foreigners from entering the country and he has decreed a mandatory quarantine starting Tuesday. Colombia has confirmed 210 cases of the coronavirus.