New York Plans to Convert Javits Center Into a Field Hospital As Coronavirus Cases Jump by Thousands Overnight

New York state now has more than 10,000 confirmed cases.
March 21, 2020, 3:31pmUpdated on March 21, 2020, 3:41pm
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AP Photo/John Minchillo

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning to convert New York City’s enormous Jacob Javits Convention Center into a field hospital to deal with the onslaught of COVID-19 cases in the state, he announced in a Saturday briefing.

In the face of massive shortages of personal protective equipment meant to keep doctors and nurses safe from the coronavirus, Cuomo also plans to send 1 million N95 masks to New York City, while Long Island will receive 500,000. And, more ventilators will be arriving in the state over the coming weeks.

“The masks are the priority, so we have made priority on masks,” Cuomo said, adding that apparel manufacturers have pledged to help make masks. “Gowns are also very important, no doubt, but we have not been successful as yet with finding a supply of gowns.”

Cuomo is requesting that the federal government help construct four field hospitals, including Javits, and send in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA to help enact and operate them. Though plans for these facilities are still preliminary, Javits alone could potentially house 1,000 beds. The other three sites, which Cuomo plans to tour Saturday, do not yet have set numbers of beds.

Cuomo revealed that New York state has performed more than 45,000 tests for the coronavirus and confirmed more than 10,000 cases. As of Friday, New York had nearly 8,000 confirmed cases.

But Cuomo, who said he has not been tested, warned people against panicking about the new numbers.

“The more tests you take, the more positives you find,” Cuomo said, adding that New York state is performing more tests than in China, South Korea, or any other state. “We are taking more tests in New York than any place in the world.”

Starting on Sunday, New York state will be put on “pause,” as Cuomo put it. Non-essential gatherings will be banned, while all non-essential businesses must have 100% of their employees work from home. In public, people will be required to stay six feet away from one another. The order resembles a similar measure enacted in California earlier this week, when Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the state’s residents to stay home.

The pandemic — and the severe measures needed to contain it — will likely last for months, Cuomo said during the Saturday press conference. But he also urged New Yorkers not to listen to rumors and to stay calm.

“I understand there’s anxiety and stress, but let’s remember some basic context and facts society functions. Everything works,” Cuomo said. “There’s gonna be food in the grocery stores. There’s no reason to buy 100 rolls of toilet paper.”

Cover: A subway customer uses a tissue to protect her hand while holding onto a pole as COVID-19 concerns drive down ridership, Thursday, March 19, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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