Gov. Cuomo Says New York State Needs 50,000 Extra Hospital Beds

NEW YORK (Bloomberg News/TNS) -
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during his daily news conference amid the coronavirus outbreak on Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York City. (Bennett Raglin/Getty Images/TNS)

The state of New York is racing to add tens of thousands of hospital beds, buy thousands of ventilators and distribute millions of masks to medical workers as coronavirus infections in the state rose above 10,000, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

More than 6,200 of the cases, or about 60%, are in New York City, Cuomo said at a news conference in Albany. Positive tests have surged as coronavirus checks expanded to more than 45,000 people. Cuomo said he hasn’t been checked because he has shown no symptoms and didn’t want to waste a test.

“This virus spreads in density,” Cuomo said. “That’s what you’re seeing in New York City.”

New York City, with a population of 8.6 million, is closing all nonessential businesses from Sunday to curb the spread of the virus. On a positive note, the infection rate is slowing in Westchester County, a northern suburb of New York City that was an early locus of the virus.

Cuomo said the state is trying to increase its hospital beds by 50,000 to 75,000 by ending elective surgeries, reconfiguring space and adding medical staff. The state is considering several sites to convert into temporary hospitals, including the Javits Center in New York, state college campuses at Stony Brook and Westbury, and the Westbury Convention Center.

The state is trying to source 2 million masks from suppliers around the globe and buying 6,000 new ventilators. The Army Corps of Engineers has been asked to supply the state with four field hospitals, each with a capacity for 250 patients.

Getting the coronavirus under control is expected to take months, rather than weeks, Cuomo said.

He warned younger people to heed warnings and practice social distancing, saying the 18-to-49 age group accounts for 54% of infections.

“You’re not superman and you’re not superwoman,” Cuomo said.

“You can get this virus and you can transfer the virus. You can wind up hurting someone who you love or hurting someone wholly inadvertently. Social distancing works and you need social distancing everywhere.”