When it comes to the COVID-19 crisis, New York City is America’s indisputable epicenter, having seen 1,139 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
And the numbers of affected individuals and attendant 911 calls have put a serious — and rapidly escalating — strain on emergency service workers in the city, Fox News reports.
Call volumes rivaling 9/11
“On 9/11 [in 2001], there were roughly 6,400 calls,” New York Fire Department EMS Lieutenant Anthony Almojera said on Tuesday’s installment of America’s Newsroom, according to Fox. “But [on 9/11] they either made it out or they didn’t. Very tragic, of course. Everybody remembered.”
He went on: “For the last nine days, it’s a 9/11 call volume every day with patients.”
Almojera went on to complain that emergency management services (EMS) “have been used as a stepping stone through other agencies, unfortunately. We’re short-staffed,” he told Fox.
Statistics posted on the FDNY Twitter account on Tuesday told a similar story.
Yesterday, March 30, FDNY EMS members responded to 6,527 medical calls.
FDNY urges New Yorkers to only call 911 during a real emergency.
— FDNY (@FDNY) March 31, 2020
COVID-19 affecting all age groups
Fox News also reported that the majority of those who have succumbed to the coronavirus have been senior citizens, with most being over the age of 75. However, not all of the victims are elderly; the death of a 17-year-old who tested positive for COVID-19 was also announced on Monday, according to the New York Department of Public Health. The individual was said to have underlying health problems, although neither the exact conditions nor the person’s identity were disclosed.
That death was not the first in the U.S. of someone under the age of 18 who had tested positive; a teenager in California passed away under such circumstances on March 24, according to NBC News, as did another in Louisiana. It was also announced on Saturday that an infant in Cook County, Illinois died due to COVID-19, Chicago NBC affiliate WMAQ reported.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with respiratory problems, chronic lung disease, or moderate to severe asthma are at particular risk of developing serious complications from coronavirus.
Also vulnerable are those suffering from obesity, diabetes, liver disease, and chronic kidney disease who are undergoing dialysis. Another group facing elevated danger are those with compromised immune systems.
“Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised,” the CDC explains, “including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.”