March 23 (UPI) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo provided a look Monday at the Javits Convention Center as the state transforms it into a complex to treat COVID-19.
The center will add about 2,000 beds to New York’s 53,000-bed hospital system. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will construct four 250-bed temporary hospitals and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will build a fifth facility with an additional 1,000 beds.
New York has nearly 21,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 157 people in the state have died after becoming ill. The virus is projected to lead to a demand for 110,000 hospital beds.
“For us, a major thrust is increasing hospital capacity,” Cuomo said. “We’re trying to reduce the rate of the spread of the virus. But at the same time, we have to get that hospital capacity up.”
Cuomo said construction on the facilities is expected to be completed in about seven to 10 days at which point they can begin admitting patients.
The hospitals, which will serve to take on patients from the state’s traditional hospitals as they are overwhelmed, will also come with medical supplies and be run by 320 federal staffers.
“This will be a backfill facility, where we can relieve some of the pressure and the tension from hospitals by using these beds,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo also issued an order for the state’s hospitals to increase their capacities by at least 50 percent.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say try to reach a 100 percent increase but you must reach a 50 percent increase,” he said.
The National Guard was also on hand at the Javits Center on Monday after President Donald Trump activated the component of the armed forces on Sunday for New York, California and Washington.