Warning that coronavirus is spreading through New York 'like a bullet train'

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has warned the coronavirus outbreak in the state is spreading like "a bullet train".

More than 200 deaths have been recorded in the state so far, accounting for one third of all virus-related deaths in the United States to date.

Governor Cuomo warned the infection rate in New York is accelerating and the state could be as close as two weeks away from the peak of the spread.

People line up outside Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens to be tested for the coronavirus. Credit: AP

While officials once thought the peak in New York would come in early May, Governor Cuomo said in a briefing on Tuesday that efforts to halt the virus were "not slowing it".

He continued: "It is accelerating on its own.

"One of the forecasters said we were looking at a freight train coming across the country. We're now looking at a bullet train."

The rate of new infections in the state, the Governor said, were doubling about every three days.

Stay-at-home measures in New York city have left the inner city deserted. Credit: AP

In his most dire warning yet, Governor Cuomo said the peak of the crisis could see a surge in cases that would overwhelm hospitals - which currently have just 3,000 intensive care unit beds statewide.

Governor Cuomo said he would "turn this state upside down" in order to get the number of hospital beds required to meet the expected demand.

He warned: "Hospitals must increase their capacity by 50 per cent. The goal is to ask them to try to increase it by 100 per cent."

For most people, Covid-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms and the vast majority recover. For some - especially older adults and those in high risk groups - the virus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

President Trump addresses reporters adhering to social distancing measures. Credit: AP

Addressing a news conference at the Jacob Javits Center - that will house a temporary hospital in response to the outbreak - Mr Cuomo proposed the US should send thousands of ventilators to New York City.

The Governor demanded President Trump use wartime authority to force manufacturers to produce ventilators, and said the city needed 30,000 of them.

The Trump administration has invoked the Korean War-era Defence Production Act to deter hoarding.

The President has, however, been reluctant to use the act to force companies to produce medical supplies.

US vice president Mike Pence said on Fox News that 2,000 ventilators have been shipped to New York and 2,000 more will be sent on Wednesday.