President Donald Trump has been shaken by the horrific and heartbreaking scenes from Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York, amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
During Sunday’s press briefing on the virus, Trump, 73, opened up about how the daunting images of the health crisis have moved him, saying, “I’ve been watching that for the last week on television.”
“Body bags all over, in hallways. I’ve been watching them bring in trailer trucks, freezer trucks, they’re freezer trucks, because they can’t handle the bodies, there are so many of them. This is essentially my community, in Queens, Queens, New York,” Trump said.
New York has been hit particularly hard by the virus and as of Monday, at least 1,218 people have died in the state, The New York Times reported.
“I’ve seen things that I’ve never seen before,” the president continued. “When I see the trucks pull up, to take out bodies — I mean, these are trucks as long as the rose garden and they are pulling up to take out bodies and you look inside and you see the black body bags? What’s in there? It is Elmhurst hospital. Must be supplies. It is not supplies. It’s people.”
Trump also shared during the press briefing that a friend of his is now in a coma just one day after going to the hospital for coronavirus.
“He’s a little older, and he’s heavy, but he’s a tough person,” Trump said. “He went to the hospital. A day later, he’s in a coma. I said how is he doing? ‘Sir, he’s in a coma, he’s unconscious. He’s not doing well.’ The speed and viciousness, especially if it gets the right person, it’s horrible. It’s really horrible.”
Also during Sunday’s press briefing, Trump announced his decision to extend the federal government’s social distancing guidelines to April 30 to “slow the spread” of the virus.
“The modeling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks. I will say it again. The peak, the highest point of death rates, remember this, is likely to hit in two weeks,” he said.
“Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread,” Trump said.
The president had previously expressed a desire to see the country return to business as usual by Easter, after weeks of people largely staying home. However, he told reporters on Sunday, “it was just an aspiration,” adding that he hopes the country will “be well on our way to recovery” by June 1.
As of Monday, there are now at least 160,718 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, the most worldwide.
At least 3,002 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus-related illness.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.
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