Public health doctor says spike in cases could overwhelm health system

A public health doctor predicted Tuesday that a spike in COVID-19 cases could overwhelm the health-care system.

Abdul El-Sayed, an epidemiologist and former city health director in Detroit, told Hill.TV that doctors across the country are worrying about the lack of tests and protective gear, and the continuously rising number of cases in the United States.

He responded to President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE’s hints in a Monday press briefing that the government may push for the reopening of the economy by saying “We are not at the beginning of the end. We’re at the end of the beginning.”

“What we’re gonna start seeing is spiking in cases,” he said. “That doesn’t bode well for the preparedness of our health care system.”

The epidemiologist said the U.S. is at a “higher trajectory” in the epidemic than “at the height of Italy.”

“We’re seeing the consequences hit our hospitals just like they hit Italy's,” he said, adding that “We can’t be declaring victory and going home. This is something we’re going to have tuck into for awhile.

Italy has been one of the countries most severely impacted by the virus, with the highest death toll at more than 6,000.

El-Sayed compared fighting the virus in the country like fighting a fire, saying a fire affecting a single house needs less supplies than one striking an entire neighborhood.

“If it engulfs the whole neighborhood, it doesn’t matter how many fire trucks you bring – you may not be able to take it down,” he said.

The U.S. has confirmed more than 46,800 cases of the virus, leading to almost 600 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

States, particularly New York, are demanding medical supplies for hospitals, saying they will soon be overwhelmed by the growing number of people who need hospitalization. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) begged the federal government to send 30,000 ventilators to his state during a press conference on Tuesday.

President Trump signed an executive order Monday to stop price gouging and the hoarding of necessary medical supplies.