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N.Y.’s Javits Center to Add 2,000 Beds to System Under Strain

March 23, 2020, 7:20 PM

Construction will begin this week to turn the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan into a 1,000-bed hospital, a first step toward eventually doubling that number, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The main showroom of the center will be broken up into four 250-bed hospitals each about 40,000 square feet in size, Cuomo said at a briefing Monday at the center. There will be 320 Federal Emergency Management Agency workers assigned to the hospitals.

New Jersey, too, expects to increase patient capacity and is asking FEMA to operate four pop-up hospitals, a step that has support from President Donald Trump, Governor Phil Murphy said.

Andrew Cuomo speaks at the Javits Center on March 23.
Photographer: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg

Across the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan, Javits is one of the nation’s biggest event spaces. The New York National Guard, center workers and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are working to prepare the makeshift hospital facility, which is expected to begin operating in a week to 10 days, Cuomo said.

The state is hoping to add an additional 1,000 beds at the center on top of that for less intensive medical care, for a total of 2,000 beds, Cuomo said.

“For us a major thrust is increasing hospital capacity,” Cuomo said.

Medical equipment stands at the Javits Center in New York.
Photographer: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg

New York is anticipating a surge of coronavirus cases that could require 110,000 beds. The state currently has about 53,000 beds.

Earlier, Cuomo said he was preparing an executive order to compel hospitals to increase their capacity by 50% to handle the surging numbers of coronavirus patients.

The state added more than 5,700 confirmed infections, Cuomo said, for a total of 20,875. Of those cases, about 12,300 are in New York City, 3,260 more than there were on Sunday.

New York accounts for more than a third of all deaths nationwide from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, with 157 compared with 114 a day earlier.

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
Photographer: Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

In neighboring New Jersey, expanded testing for coronavirus turned up another 930 confirmed cases in the last day, pushing the total to 2,884, Murphy said. Seven more deaths from Covid-19 were reported, for a total of 27.

New Jersey is also trying to add hospital beds. Murphy said he had a one-on-one phone call Monday with Trump in which the president “said he would support” the creation of four pop-up field hospitals, to be run by FEMA.

Murphy on Monday outlined new steps the state was taking to slow the virus’s march, including a plan to release as many as 1,000 low-level offenders from county jails. They include people with low-level indictable offenses and municipal-level convictions, and all will be screened to determine whether they pose a danger to themselves or others.

Members of the New York Army National Guard stand in formation at the Javits Center.
Photographer: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg

“Jails can be incubators for disease,” state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said.

The disclosure follows an order by New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio on Sunday for the release of 23 inmates from the city’s jail system. The city’s correctional authorities are reviewing 200 other cases as well, de Blasio said.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Keshia Clukey in New York at kclukey@bloomberg.net;
Elise Young in Trenton at eyoung30@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Flynn McRoberts at fmcroberts1@bloomberg.net

David S. Joachim, Peter Jeffrey

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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