The Javits Convention Center’s stunning transformation into a 2,000-bed hospital complex to treat coronavirus patients was in full swing Monday, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a sneak peek at the facility.
“For us, a major thrust is increasing hospital capacity,” Cuomo told reporters inside the cavernous Midtown convention center. “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.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is in the process of constructing four 250-bed temporary hospitals inside the venue, while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to erect a fifth, 1,000-bed facility, Cuomo said.
Cumulatively, the hospitals would add 2,000 beds to the 53,000 in the state’s hospital system, inching New York closer to the 110,000-bed threshold that the contagion’s curve is projected to demand.
The crunch comes as New York state is inundated with 20,875 cases of coronavirus, including 12,305 in the five boroughs. So far, the disease has killed 157 people across the Empire State.
The Javits Center facilities can begin admitting patients as soon as construction is completed in about seven to 10 days, according to Cuomo.
Once operational, the facilities will serve as a sort of pressure valve to take on patients overflowing from traditional hospitals, Cuomo said.
“This will be a backfill facility, where we can relieve some of the pressure and the tension from hospitals by using these beds,” he said.
Additionally, the FEMA hospitals — which will sprawl to about 40,000 square feet each — will come equipped with their own caches of sorely needed medical supplies, plus about 320 federal staffers in total.
The National Guard was also on hand at the center Monday, aiding as needed in the overhaul.
“You are going to see an overcapacity of our health system,” predicted Cuomo. “Luckily, Javits has plenty of space.
“This was never an anticipated use, but you do what you have to do. That’s the New York way. That’s the American way.”