NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – No one knows the impact of the coronavirus pandemic more than the medical professionals on the front lines.

They face an endless stream of patients, and a dire need for equipment.

CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas took a look at what they have to endure to keep people safe.

If New York City is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, then Elmhurst Hospital is ground zero. Thirteen patients recently died there in just a 24 hour span.

Video posted by The New York Times taken by an emergency care physician there shows how stretched thin they are.

“I want people to know that this is bad. People are dying. We don’t have the tools that we need,” said Dr. Colleen Smith, of Elmhurst Hospital.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that 40 additional ventilators and 56 staff members were sent to Elmhurst Hospital.

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Each day patients, many with cold and flu-like symptoms, line up outside to be tested. It’s located in Queens, a borough which accounts for nearly a third of all COVID-19 cases in New York City.

“Our concern is that we don’t have the resources like masks and other protective equipment,” said Anthony Almojera of the EMS officers union.

The call for more protective equipment is a refrain being heard from medical professionals across the city.

“It is dire. Nobody was prepared and nobody had a stockpile,” said Michael Greco, vice president of the uniformed EMTs, paramedics and inspectors union.


Doctors and first responders are also getting sick. Add to that the overwhelming amount of patients, and long hours are beginning to take its toll.

“9/11 didn’t have this many calls. We’re doing it now everyday for the last two weeks the call volume has gone up and up,” Almojera said.

City ambulances have seen a surge in calls, responding to nearly 5,800 Thursday.

“From the perspective of being properly prepared, the training is there. The equipment is not,” Almojera said.

With each passing day, the number of infections continues to balloon as the death toll reaches grim milestones.

“People come in. They get intubated. They die. The cycle repeats,” said Dr. Steve Kasspidis, an ICU doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital.

At New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, a new refrigerated trailer now serves as a makeshift morgue. Officials say it more than doubles the hospital’s capacity.

Over at the Javits Center, where four temporary hospitals will be set up, cots are assembled. It’s an alternate site to ease the bed shortage at New York hospitals.

In a statewide PSA, a Manhattan ICU nurse named Kelly urges residents to heed the warnings.

“Lives are on the line and it’s not a joke and it’s not an exaggeration. I see it day in and day out,” she says.

Meantime, medical professionals are on the front lines doing their part, regardless of the circumstances and personal impact, are hoping to save lives.

The Queens borough president said anyone still in denial about how dire the situation is should use this as an alert – not for panic, but for making the right choices.

Health experts still expect cases to peak in the coming weeks.

PHOTO GALLERY: Life In New York City Under The Coronavirus


Comments (11)
  1. Franklin Williamson says:

    Please note, we do not know WHY these people died. After working in several hospitals in NYC including Queens, 13 people dying for any reason is normal to low. Wish the news would be specific and not create additional unnecessary panic.

  2. timson kendolla says:

    seriously is this virus what you suspect as fake news. Thanks Donald…

  3. rvbcave says:

    This kind of sensationalism is abhorrent. It’s HORRIBLE that 13 people died in Queens. The 24 hour fatality rate is 0.20249221183801%. People need to be educated and taught common-sense precautions… not terrified by the media.

  4. annbanisher says:

    I’m curious how many came to the hospital for the virus and died of the virus.
    As opposed to people who came to the hospital for other issues and died and afterwards they found they had the virus.
    There is a difference of dying from the virus vs dying with the virus.
    Also heard the morgues were ‘full’, yet only 129 people have died from this over a month.
    Less people have died this year in NY than last year, yet the morgues are full.

    1. Franklin Williamson says:

      Annbanisher, you are exactly right. Why are the morgues considered “full”. They’re probably not full and possibly listed as full, holding space for in case of emergency overflow. This could all be part of a large scale drill as well. Who knows but your question is valid.

  5. Mary Poppins says:

    They didn’t actually say what the people died from, it says 13 people died. I wouldn’t assume they died from a virus. Has anyone noticed that they never give names of people who died, they’ll say 2 people from Florida died from the coronavius.

  6. Craig Eliot says:

    Elmurst Hospital is a CITY hospital, i.e., the last resort of the poor who cannot afford medical insurance. The medical care there has always been atrociously bad. It’s the last place you want to be when you’re sick unless you have absolutely no other alternative.

  7. geo says:

    FACT: Brooklyn currently has the most cases of coronavirus.

  8. jimbo says:

    When Brooklyn had the most cases, it was downplayed.
    But when the virus news is Queens, CBS gives it BIG HEADLINES!

  9. James Brumbaugh says:

    How old are those who died and what was their health condition before they contracted the virus?

    1. They purposely left that out so you could panic.

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