Photo by Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, via Flickr cc
When it first opened on Monday, the temporary hospital set up at the Javits Center was to serve as an overflow site, treating non-COVID patients to ease the burden on the city’s hospitals. But as the severity of the situation has worsened throughout the week, Governor Cuomo asked President Trump for approval on using Javits’ 2,500 beds solely for COVID-19 patients. He received the approval this evening.
In a statement, the governor said:
As we all know the growing coronavirus cases are threatening the capacity of our hospital system. The state-owned Javits Center has been turned into a 2,500-bed emergency medical facility being run by the US Army. The original plan for Javits was that it be used to take non-COVID patients from hospitals to open up hospital beds. However, the number of COVID positive patients has increased so dramatically that it would be beneficial to the state if Javits could accept COVID positive patients.
The Javits Center facility was set up as a temporary FEMA hospital, meaning it came equipped with an Army staff. The specifics of the Center’s new use have not yet been released, but most health professionals have been in agreement that those patients requiring a ventilator/ICU bed are best served in existing hospitals. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a Tweet this evening that the policy change “will make it so that hospitals can discharge the patients who have recovered enough to no longer require acute care.” A plan to convert 20 hotels into temporary hospitals will do the same.
The patients currently at the Javits Center will be moved to the USNS Comfort, the 1,000-bed Naval hospital ship that arrived in New York Harbor on Monday, according to the Washington Post. As the governor explained in his press conference today, the Army is able to use Javits and Comfort as they see fit, but the ship will likely remain non-COVID as the process of disinfecting an entire ship is much more complicated.
As of 9:30am this morning, 48,462 people in New York City had tested positive for the virus; 1,397 had died. On the state-wide level, there were 92,381 positive cases and 2,373 deaths. Throughout the state, 13,383 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 1,157 since yesterday. Of these patients, 3,396 are in ICU beds, an increase of 374 from the day prior.
The governor’s announcement comes after he told New Yorkers this morning: “We have 6 days of ventilators left in our stockpile at the current burn rate.” He then said the state was “taking extraordinary measures to move ventilators to meet the need,” which includes using anesthesia machines as ventilators, “splitting” ventilator tubes between two patients, converting BiPAP machines into ventilators, asking any company with the proper equipment to begin manufacturing ventilators, and continuing to “scour the glove” to acquire more.
In his press conference today, Governor Cuomo explained that getting beds is the easy part. Finding the supplies and staff is the hard part. But 85,400 health professionals in New York have signed up to volunteer in the crisis efforts, along with 21,000 volunteers from out of state. Sports Anchor Bruce Beck announced on Twitter this evening that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is “sending down an 18 wheeler tomorrow from Boston – equipped with 300,000 N95 masks” that will be delivered to the Javits Center.
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