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Coronavirus: How one New York hospital is coping at the epicentre of US crisis | US News

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From the moment we approach Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, there are people everywhere.

Doctors and nurses spilling out on to the streets, intensely huddled for snatched conversations, rushing between a triage tent on the pavement and an extremely busy ER room dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

New York State has become ground zero for COVID-19
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New York State has become the epicentre of COVID-19 in the US

The ambulances keep coming – the sound of sirens a constant theme.

Patient after patient arrives with breathing problems.

Inside Brooklyn’s largest hospital, Dr Eitan Dickman, vice chair of emergency medicine, tells me they have had to rapidly adapt to an overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients.

Dr Eitan Dickman is Vice Chair of Emergency Medicine  at the Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn
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Dr Eitan Dickman is vice chair of emergency medicine at the Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn

“We have opened up a new ICU, new intensive care units.

“We’ve opened up new medical units in order to accommodate for this increased demand of patients who are coming in so ill.”

Patient after patient arrives with breathing problems at the Maimonides Medical Center
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Patient after patient arrives with breathing problems at the hospital

They have already expanded their capacity by 50% and they are prepared to do it by 250%.

There are normally 17 beds in the room we are in.

Today, there are 32 patients, and the doors constantly swing open with new arrivals.

The sound of heart monitors punctuate the air, and there is the coarse clunk of oxygen ventilators being carried through to cope with the deluge.

And then there is the patients, many elderly – but some appear to be in their thirties too – all clearly struggling to breathe.

Most have masks on to help get oxygen in.

Workers fighting the virus at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn
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Workers fighting the virus at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn

“Really the main effect that we’re seeing,” says Dr Dickman, “is a significant effect on impairing the lungs ability to provide the oxygen that the body needs.

“And then it spreads. It affects the heart. It affects the kidney.

“Ultimately unfortunately often taking the ultimate toll.”

New York State has become the epicentre for the COVID-19 pandemic in the US.

At the time of writing, 92,381 have tested positive for the virus, and 13,383 people have been admitted to hospital.

Every day, the death toll reaches a new grim milestone – it currently stands at 2,373.



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As a team operating at the epicentre of this crisis, we have sadly become used to seeing bodies brought out on gurneys in the street and loaded into refrigerator trucks.

It is a painful, incongruous sight in one of the premier medical capitals of the world, and a searing symbol of just how intensely COVID-19 has engulfed this city.

The virus does not discriminate and in this city of extremes, it is a brutal equaliser.

“It affects people from all demographics and even people who are who are still intubated for potentially weeks on end if they end up very, very ill. Chronically ill,” Dr Dickman says.

Elsewhere in the city, there’s a dire lack of personal protective equipment – some terrified nurses forced to make their own or ask to re-use what they are given.

The US has almost 260,000 cases of the virus
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The US has almost 260,000 cases of the virus

They say it’s a risk to them and to the people they’re trying to treat.

But not at Maimonides.

They appear to have acted quickly, prepared and organised well and currently say they have enough supplies.

But they are keeping a close eye on the situation – they know it’s still at week or more away from the peak of the pandemic and it will certainly put pressure on their system.

It’s striking to see up-close how this virus sucks resources.

Everywhere I look, I can see groups of doctors and nurses surrounding each patient.

It is a daunting climate even for the most experienced.

“I’ve seen the sickest people I’ve ever seen in my life,” his colleague tells me.

“Everyone is really pushing themselves to the limit to try and take care of these patients,” Dr. Dickman adds.

They’re learning on the job about COVID-19 and it’s a sharp and unforgiving learning curve.

He says: “We’re finding out more and more that there are no classic symptoms.

“Often times people will have respiratory complaints, but sometimes people had abdominal pain, which didn’t make you think that they would have something related in their lungs, but they ended up ultimately being diagnosed.”









New York families unable to say goodbye

Those that do make it he says, are in for a “very rock road to recovery”.

Everyone in this room is taking a risk.

Frontline medical staff are being exposed to COVID-19 on a daily basis.

As a team, we make sure we observe the two metre (6ft) distance rule throughout – we know the air is full of the virus.

As we leave the room, we start the process of removing our protective equipment – doffing as they call it.

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It is an anxiety-inducing protocol we have to follow.

One misstep – we are told – and we can easily expose ourselves to the virus.

There are goggles, gloves, N95 masks and other protective clothing to take off.

We have been told to establish a clean area to dispose of it all, disinfect the camera equipment and avoid any cross-contaminating by touching each others items.

As a team, my producer, Emily Purser Brown, and cameraman Guy Siggers, have to keep a close eye on each other.

We have been spending our days watching each others behaviour – making sure we are not getting too close to anyone, that we do not touch our faces, that we are constantly washing our hands.

As we get in car, we all look visibly shaken.

We have just witnessed a packed room of people struggling to survive, and I can still hear the whir of the machines.

After four weeks spent reporting on the virus, the reality of what it can do to the body has really hit us.

The emergency room was packed with people our parents’ age.

I recently spent a month in London on an ICU ward after my mother-in-law had severe complications following heart surgery.

It was traumatic and deeply upsetting, but eventually, surrounded by family, she miraculously pulled through.

But here, they cannot have relatives standing by their bedside to encourage them.

Everyone is alone – it is too risky to have visitors at the hospitals. It is a horrifying thought.

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I feel in awe of the medical professionals we have met at Maimonides Hospital.

I have never seen a more kinetic, demanding and surreal situation.

As we walk to the car park, we suddenly see the refrigerator truck parked, ready to carry the bodies of the dead.

But we know, the doctor and nurses inside are doing everything they can, adjusting rapidly to a dynamic and unpredictable situation with bravery and dexterity, to stop anyone getting there – to save as many lives as possible.

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Coronavirus: ‘She took her last breath in my arms’ – A personal tragedy as US COVID-19 deaths hit 100,000 | US News

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In a matter of months, 100,000 lives have been lost to coronavirus in the United States – nearly triple that of any other country.

America never wanted to lead the world this way. The unfathomable milestone is one of this country’s most tragic and indelible.

Each death took away unique experiences and stories: some well told; most unsung.

Leilani Jordan
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Leilani Jordan was just 27 when she died

People have died in every state and from every walk of life.

Leilani Jordan was a 27-year-old supermarket worker who put her heart and soul into her job. Coronavirus only strengthened her resolve to help those in need.

Her mum, Zenobia Shepherd, says her daughter, who loved butterflies, had an inbuilt instinct to help people.

“She said to me, ‘Mommy, nobody is showing up for work. I have to help the senior citizens, the elderlies’.”

Ms Shepherd added: “Many of them can barely walk – leaning over shopping carts. And although (Leilani) had her own disabilities, she would go out of her way to help them to get and find what they needed.

“Because she knew sign language she could even talk to and help those that could not talk. So she loved helping and being needed by others.”

Zenobia Shepherd says she would do anything to have her daughter back
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Zenobia Shepherd says she would do anything to have her daughter back

Leilani kept going until the day she could no longer breathe. Unlike the thousands robbed of proper goodbyes, Leilani was in her mother’s arms when she passed away.

“I would do anything in this world if I could have my baby back,” Ms Shepherd said.

“My butterfly is gone. She’s flown away to heaven. I have to wait until my time to go see her.”

She added: “I was there when she went to CCU. She took her last breath in my arms. My hands, my last touch, touching her body, as it was warm… It was her last breath.”

Ms Shepherd is now living on memories of her daughter’s singing, her love of the beach and all things purple.

She has some comfort in Leilani’s support dog and best friend, Angel, who now sleeps at the front door, waiting for Leilani to return.

Zenobia was able to visit Leilani in hospital
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Ms Shepherd was able to visit Leilani in hospital

Ms Shepherd has two young daughters who make a video for their sister each day – telling her how much they love her.

Deaths in America have been disproportionately high in black communities, revealing long standing health and socio-economic disparities.

Ms Shepherd is now focusing her grief on the urgent need for protections for essential workers like her daughter.

“I want to help other people that aren’t being helped,” she said. “The situation is we’ve got to do a better job, a better job of protecting – protecting and keeping them safe.”

Leilani's younger sisters at her grave in Arlington National Cemetery
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Leilani’s younger sisters at her grave in Arlington National Cemetery

After Leilani’s death, she received her daughter’s final paycheck in the post. The amount was a gut punch: $20.63.

“I think that families, people that have certain front line jobs need to get paid more money,” she said. “They need to have bonuses during this time.”

Like every American, Ms Shepherd is desperate for this situation to end: “I wish this whole thing would go away. Just go to space and leave us alone.

“If only (we) could have been ahead of it a little bit. The death toll may not have been so high and growing.”

Leilani Jordan
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Leilani loved to help people, her mum says

As the daughter of a military family, Leilani shares her final resting place with fallen heroes in Arlington National Cemetery.

Coronavirus has now claimed more American lives than the Vietnam, Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.

Those lives lost in past battles are marked by the seemingly endless symmetry of white headstones. Ms Shepherd knows that is where she will come on every occasion Leilani loved so much: Christmas and Halloween, and each birthday she would have celebrated with her usual joy.

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So much death has largely been unseen. For a nation living in isolation it is perhaps harder to share a collective sense of grief – even harder to tune out of the ongoing political noise of this crisis.

But make no mistake: America is engulfed in tragedy, and with no cure or vaccine, this is not the end.

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Historic US space launch that would have been visible from UK aborted | Science & Tech News

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An historic US space flight that would have been visible from the UK was aborted shortly before launch due to bad weather.

NASA announced the decision on safety grounds just minutes before lift-off on Wednesday – with the flight now not happening until at least the weekend.

The mission had been planned in conjunction with Elon Musk’s spaceflight company SpaceX – and it would have been the first private involvement in taking astronauts to the International Space Station.

The massive Vehicle Assembly Building is shrouded in fog as stormy weather greeted launch day at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 27, 2020. - A new era in space begins Wednesday with the launch by SpaceX of two NASA astronauts into space, a capability that for six decades symbolized the power of a handful of states, and which the United States itself had been deprived of for nine years.If the bad weather clears, at 4:33 pm (20:33 GMT) a SpaceX rocket with the new Crew Dragon capsule on
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Weather conditions forced NASA to postpone the SpaceX launch

The US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron had forecast between a 40% and 60% chance of favourable conditions at the launch site in Florida.

Throughout the day weather conditions became worse, with a tropical storm initially threatening the launch before a tornado warning was issued.

NASA has stringent rules about the conditions in which the Falcon 9 can fly, and said one of these rules was being violated just minutes before the launch.

The earliest the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon spacecraft could now launch is this weekend, with potential windows available on both Saturday and Sunday.

Falcon 9 rockets are not allowed to launch for 30 minutes after lightning is observed within 10 nautical miles of the launch pad and flight path.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain praised the SpaceX and NASA teams for “making the tough call” to postpone the mission.

“We all wanted a launch, but keeping our friends safe while we do it is a no-fail mission,” Ms McClain said, adding: “See you again Saturday.”

President Trump flew to Florida to watch the launch
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President Trump flew to Florida to watch the launch

Although Donald Trump flew down to Florida to watch the launch, it being postponed means that the last president to be present at a NASA launch was Bill Clinton.

Barack Obama had flown to the Kennedy Space Centre for a space shuttle launch in 2010, but that launch was scrubbed due to a technical problem.

He didn’t return for the rescheduled launch a number of weeks later.

It isn’t clear whether Mr Trump will be back in Florida on Saturday.

There are 15 names on the Space Mirror Memorial. Pic: John Owen
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There are 15 names on the Space Mirror Memorial. Pic: John Owen

Just a few miles away from the launchpad at the Kennedy Space Centre there is a Space Mirror Memorial.

It commemorates the 15 NASA astronauts who lost their lives while in service to the agency during a spaceflight.

No names will be added to that memorial due to decisions made today.

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Russian fighter jets ‘unsafely’ intercept US plane over Mediterranean Sea | World News

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The US has accused two Russian fighter jets of “unsafely” intercepting one of its patrol planes over the Mediterranean Sea.

Two Russian SU-35 jets flew alongside the P-8A Poseidon for one hour and four minutes on Tuesday, the US defence department said.

The jets stopped the US 6th Fleet plane from being able to manoeuvre properly, making the intercept “unsafe and unprofessional”, it added.

It is the second time in three months the US has complained of unwanted interceptions by Russian planes in the same area.

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A defence department spokesman said that while the intercept happened in international airspace, Russia’s behaviour was “irresponsible”.

A statement said: “Actions‎ like these increase the potential for midair collisions.”

Russia has not yet commented.

The US 6th Fleet is headquartered in Naples, Italy, where it works to “advance US national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa”.

Russia deploys military fighter aircraft to Libya. Pic: U.S. Africa Command
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Satellite images appeared to a show a Russian plane in Libya. Pic: US Africa Command

It comes after the US also accused Russia of sending fighter jets to Libya to support Russian mercenaries there, after satellite images showed a Russian Mig-29 on an airfield near Tripoli.

It is believed they were providing air support to forces led by General Haftar in their fight against the internationally recognised Government of National Accord.

Haftar’s forces, known as the Libyan National Army (LNA), are being supported by The Wagner Group, a Russian-backed mercenary outfit.

Although those images have been circling for days, the US has now said it is confident the jet is Russian and can only have come on the orders of Moscow.

The Kremlin has again not commented on the issue.

It was also reported this week by Russian media that the country had begun construction of its first prototype stealth bomber aircraft.

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