Photo of the Aqueduct Racetrack via Wikimedia
Facing a shortage of hospital beds, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced a plan to build four additional temporary hospitals in each New York City borough, adding 4,000 more beds. On Friday, he toured the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens’ South Ozone Park, the Port Authority-owned Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook, the CUNY College of Staten Island, and the New York Expo Center in Hunts Point in the Bronx. On Saturday, Cuomo said President Donald Trump had approved these sites, meaning work can begin immediately. These will be in addition to Manhattan’s Javits Center, which opens tomorrow as a temporary 1,000-bed FEMA hospital.
A warehouse of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal during the ePrix in 2017; Photo via Wikimedia
As of Saturday, the state’s number of confirmed cases of coronavirus hit 52,318, with more than 26,000 cases in New York City. The state has seen 728 deaths, a sharp increase from 519 yesterday. As Cuomo has been saying for weeks, the existing hospital system’s capacity of 53,000 beds will be overwhelmed. The state is projected to need up to 140,000 hospital beds in both hospitals and overflow facilities. Of these, they anticipate needing 40,000 ICU beds, of which there are currently only 3,000.
Image courtesy of the Governor’s Office
The four newly approved sites were evaluated based on their size, the speed in which they can be turned into facilities, and whether there is climate control inside. The New York Expo Center measures 90,000 square feet, the Racetrack is 100,000 square feet, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal (owned by the Port Authority) measures 182,000 square feet, and the CUNY campus on Staten Island measures about 77,000 square feet.
“We would do the same thing that we’ve done here successfully, so we know it works,” Cuomo said on Friday, referring to the Javits Center. “That would give us coverage all across the downstate area with proximate facilities to every location downstate, and frankly is the best place that we can put together and execute in this timeline.”
On Saturday, the governor also announced three smaller new temporary hospitals: the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island (260 beds); Westchester Square in the Bronx (200 beds); and the Health Alliance in Ulster County (235 beds). The Psychiatric Center and Westchester Square will be joined by the SUNY Downstate University Hospital in Brooklyn (250 beds) to serve as COVID-only sites. This new approach was advised by the Health Commissioner because it limits the chance of patients in the hospitals for other reasons contracting coronavirus.
The state is also preparing college dormitories and hotels for emergency beds. Those being considered include the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Center Nursing Home, CUNY City College, and CUNY Queens College.
In addition to sites in the city, the state is also looking to build temporary hospitals with a 1,000-plus patient overflow capacity in Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties. These new sites are expected to be open to patients in early to mid-April. The temporary sites join facilities already being built at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury, the Westchester Convention Center, and the Javits Center.
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on March 27, 2020, and has been updated with additional information.
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