Cuomo Evaluating Spaces for Temporary COVID-19 Hospitals as Cases Rise
by Dan Clark • Published on March 21, 2020 • 0 Comments
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters Saturday, March 21, 2020.
Credit: Dan Clark
New York state has identified 6,000 more ventilators from areas “across the globe,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who left Albany Saturday to explore possible locations that could be retrofitted into remote hospitals for patients with the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Cuomo said New York state is looking into the Javits Center in Manhattan, SUNY Stony Brook in Suffolk County, SUNY Westbury in Nassau County, and the Westchester Convention Center as possible locations.
Those locations, Cuomo said, would be retrofitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers into temporary hospitals, where patients with severe symptoms related to COVID-19 could be treated.
New York is also asking the federal government for four field hospitals, which would have a capacity of 250 beds each. Cuomo didn’t say where those hospitals would be located.
The immediate goal, Cuomo said, is to add an additional 25,000 hospital beds on top of the 50,000 that New York already has. It’s likely that the state will continue to seek locations for hospital beds as the number of cases in New York continues to rise.
Some of those hospital beds will require ventilators, which have been hard to find, Cuomo said. New York state has somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000 ventilators right now, he’s said in recent days, but may need as many as 37,000.
New York’s supply of ventilators is expected to double in the next few weeks after representatives of the state identified 6,000 additional machines to purchase, Cuomo said. They’re coming from various locations around the world, he said.
They’re also looking at technology that could have the potential to allow one ventilator to be used for two people, but nothing’s final on that, Cuomo said.
As of Saturday morning, 10,356 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in New York, with more than half of those cases in New York City alone. Westchester currently has the second-highest number of cases, with 1,385 reported in the county.
Of those who’ve tested positive, 1,603 have required hospitalizations, Cuomo said. That’s about 15% of the cases that have been identified so far.
New York has seen a spike in the number of cases in the last week after the state’s testing capacity recently ramped up. More than 45,000 people have been tested for the disease in New York, Cuomo said. That’s compared to a few hundred just three weeks ago.
Amid a shortage of medical supplies in densely populated areas, Cuomo said the state would be sending one million N95 facial masks to New York City this weekend, and 500,000 to Long Island. Certain apparel companies have also started to manufacture masks, Cuomo said.
New York state will also begin a medical trial, as soon as possible, on a combination of drugs that could be used to treat the symptoms associated with COVID-19, Cuomo said.
The potential treatment would be a combination of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, and azithromycin, an antibiotic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is acquiring 10,000 doses of the treatment for New York to try, Cuomo said.
On state prisons, Cuomo said the state is not moving vulnerable individuals out of those facilities for the time being. There doesn’t appear to be a widespread problem there, but they’re keeping an eye on it, Cuomo said.
“We’re watching that situation very closely. We don’t have a significant issue yet of spread in the prison system,” Cuomo said. “We’ve taken certain precautions, we’ve stopped certain visitation. But, if we have a problem, we’ll address it.”
Some lawmakers, and advocates, have called on Cuomo to move potentially vulnerable individuals out of state prisons, either through release or relocation. New York City, this week, planned to release 40 inmates from Rikers Island who were potentially vulnerable to the disease.