New York hospitals under pressure as virus cases mount

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NEW YORK (AP) — As the number of confirmed cases soared above 11,000, the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared a major disaster in New York, freeing up access to billions of relief dollars. The state has more than 11,000 confirmed cases and 56 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Even so, New York is hunting for desperately needed medical supplies and scouting temporary hospital locations in New York City and its suburbs, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday. The state is seeking to quickly boost hospital capacity from around 50,000 beds to 75,000 beds statewide.

The state has already hospitalized 1,600 people. The governor said the state is looking to see if Manhattan’s spacious Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, normally home to the auto show and other big events, could be suitable for 1,000 requested field hospital beds that would be supplied by FEMA in a “tent configuration” with equipment and staff.

On a parallel track, the state is scouting four locations for temporary hospitals that would be built by the Army Corps of Engineers. The possible sites include the Javits Center in the city, Stony Brook University, SUNY College at Old Westbury—both on Long Island—and the Westchester County Center north of the city. Sites will be reviewed Saturday, he said.

“Everything that can be done is being done,” Cuomo said.

Officials have identified 2 million face masks that can be sent to hot spots, Cuomo said, and apparel companies are pivoting to make masks. One million masks are being sent Saturday to New York City hospitals, and 500,000 to Long Island. And with hospital gowns in short supply, the state is trying to obtain gown material for apparel makers, he said.

Because of dwindling supplies, hospitals have been rationing supplies and asking staff to reuse masks until they become soiled.

The state is also rounding up critically needed ventilators, purchasing 6,000 to deploy to the most critical areas and investigating whether multiple patients can be served by a single ventilator, Cuomo said.

“We are literally scouring the globe looking for medical supplies,” he said.

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