Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that federal help to increase the number of hospital beds is coming to New York following a series conversations with President Donald Trump.
Cuomo said the Army Corps of Engineers is being sent to New York Wednesday afternoon to look at construction of hospitals and mobile hospital sites amid the growing coronavirus pandemic. The mobile hospitals have a capacity of 200-250 people, Cuomo said.
“Our planning will track where the cases are. Wherever you have a cluster of cases, that’s where you will add capacity,” Cuomo said. “Wherever we see these clusters pop up.”
The USNS Comfort hospital ship, with 1,000 beds in it, is being dispatched to New York, Cuomo announced.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he has spoken directly with Cuomo about how Department of Defense assets like the Comfort and Army Corps of Engineers might be used in the state.
Discussing the need for federal assistance, Cuomo again cautioned “the state can not do this on its own. We don’t have the capacity. We don’t have the workforce.”
Cuomo also issued an executive order saying no business can have more than 50% of their workforce report to work outside of their home, except for essential services.
A master list of what the state considers “essential services” is being prepared, the governor says.
Each new restriction is a test, the governor says, and they made need to be even stricter.
“All workforce 50% except essential services, we’ll see if that slows the spread. If it doesn’t slow the spread, then we will reduce the number of workers even further,” Cuomo said.
Wednesday evening, Cuomo announced he signed a bill guaranteeing paid leave for New Yorkers under mandatory or precautionary quarantine, saying:
“I just signed into law legislation to provide immediate relief to working New Yorkers whose lives are being turned upside down by COVID-19.
“No one should have to make the impossible choice between losing their job or providing for their family and going to work, especially during this pandemic. We seek to build upon this effort with guaranteed sick leave for all in this year’s budget.
“In New York we stand with our workers in sickness and in health.”
There are now more than 2,300 cases in New York state, Cuomo said, with more than 1,000 new cases identified as testing ramps up. More than 14,000 tests have been conducted in the state.
Cuomo says the state’s priority now is increasing hospital beds and ICU capacity. Its 53,000 beds are not enough to meet peak demand expected in 45 days.
Department of Health regulations are being waived temporarily to allow more beds into hospitals. The state continues to also reach out to retired doctors and nurses and medical schools to try to boost the number of health care workers available to confront the virus.