By Cindi Cook
PARIS (AA) - French President Emmanuel Macron said the fight against the novel coronavirus is unlike any a wartime commander is likely to face as the country’s death toll from the disease mounted Wednesday.
"We are at war, with an invisible enemy," said Macron, using words he has uttered many times over the past few weeks as he leads the nation through a peacetime battle of untold proportions.
As the death toll in France rose by 231 to 1,331 and the number of cases to 25,233, he again issued a battle cry to his compatriots, doing so, ironically, in front of a makeshift military field hospital set up in a parking lot in Mulhouse. The city sits in France's Grand Est region bordering Germany and has been hammered by the epidemic.
The president spoke with force and vigor, rallying the troops -- in this case, medical personnel -- against this enemy. He announced Operation Resilience, a mobilization that will involve the military in supporting the country in hospital environments as well as public services.
He praised and thanked all healthcare workers repeatedly, recognizing that they have been consumed by insurmountable cases of COVID-19.
"In this war, all of our caregivers are on the front line," he said, remembering those doctors who have recently died from the disease.
"I want to salute the memory of the caregivers who paid with their lives for their commitment to save other lives.”
Macron promised a "massive investment and upgrading plan" for hospitals that will be "deep and lasting" which will include increased overtime hours and exceptional bonuses for all nursing staff and civil servants.
France's medical community has long demanded fundamental changes, its problems coming to the fore earlier this year with strikes and demonstrations throughout the country.
Worldwide, the number of coronavirus infections stands at 460,250, the number of deceased at 20,857 and the number of recovered at 113,691, according to U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.