New York officials on Monday announced further steps to expand the state's hospital capacity amid the expectation the public health care system will be stretched to the extreme in the coming weeks.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the last several days has urged the federal government to use the Army Corps of Engineers to expand hospitals and intensive care units. New York has about 50,000 hospital beds and 3,000 ICU beds with ventilators.
But Cuomo also on Monday moved forward what amounts to plan B: Having existing hospitals in New York prepare for a rapid expansion that will likely include suspending elective surgeries, working with the National Guard, trade unions and private sector to convert dormitories and nursing homes and have local governments identify potential sites.
The goal is to create an additional 9,000 beds.
Meanwhile, additional drive-through testing sites will be made available in Rockaldn County, as well as on Long Island and Staten Island.
There are now 950 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state, though officials are working under the assumption that number is much higher and are urging people to socially distance to control the spread of the virus.
The virus has been attributed to seven deaths, while 158 people have been hospitalized, a rate of 17 percent of the overall cases.
The overarching goal is to take increasingly layered steps to prevent the state's situation getting worse to the point of what has happened in Italy, where people have been quarantined for weeks.
"Just extend the current trajectory,” Cuomo said of the hospitalization rate. “It’s still math at the end of the day and it doesn’t work.”