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'That’s all I see': ER doctor details 'surge' of coronavirus patients

Adriana Belmonte
Associate Editor

There are over 200,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. More than 7,000 Americans have died so far from the virus, officially known as COVID-19.

And although President Trump stated in late March that the nation’s death rate would likely peak in two weeks, emergency room physician Dr. Sampson Davis described the prediction as “ambitious.”

“From what I see, we’re about three to five weeks away, and that’s just from my area of the country,” Davis, who works in the New York metropolitan area, said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade (video above). “I can’t speak about the whole country, but ... we’re seeing coronavirus — that’s all I see every single day.”

Coronavirus cases continue to rise. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

‘If I see 30 patients per shift, 25 have COVID’

New York City has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. The metro area accounts for nearly 20% of all cases in the country. 

“The great majority of patients I see today, yesterday, the day before, are all COVID-19 patients,” Davis said. “If I see 30 patients per shift, 25 have COVID. But keep in mind we’re at the point now, if you have minor symptoms, we’re not testing any longer. I can tell by your symptomology — body aches, fever — that you have COVID-19. We’re sending people home with asymptomatic symptoms.” 

Two members of the Emergency Medical Team of the Fire Department of New York prepare their gurney before going on another ambulance call at the Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York City on March 30, 2020. (Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

The mortality rate has gotten so bad where Davis works that he described outside trailers and freezers being used to serve as morgues. 

“Right now, I am seeing such a surge,” he said. “A week ago, zero patients. Today, seeing probably 200 to 300 patients within a week of coronavirus.”

Just a few days ago, Davis lost one of the physicians at his hospital from coronavirus. Since the outbreak began, he said he’s lost “a lot” of patients and six nurse colleagues. He’s described his hospital’s environment as being short on both supplies and staff.

Coronavirus cases continue to rise. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

In order to limit the number of patients in the emergency room so that health care professionals don’t get overwhelmed, Davis recommended staying home since it’s the safest place for both yourself and health care workers who need to treat more serious patients. 

But “if you feel you’re short of breath, you can’t breathe, you’re winded, you might feel like you may pass out, you have chest pain — go to the emergency department,” he said. “Call 911. Use your resources. You can always call your private physician and there are hot lines from each state you can call to discuss your symptoms to decide if you should go to the emergency department.” 

Adriana is a reporter and editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.

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