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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announces at the USTA Bille Jean King tennis center that the venue will be transformed into a 350-bed temporary hospital. Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference Tuesday of plans to triple hospital bed numbers to combat the novel coronavirus by transforming facilities into makeshift hospitals — including U.S. Open tennis courts.

The big picture: The city now accounts for a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. — more than 1,000 as of Wednesday morning. De Blasio said NYC had "about 20,000 working hospital beds in our major hospitals" before the outbreak. "We now need to, in just the next weeks ... produce three times that number," he said.

Zoom in: The 14-tent, 68-bed respiratory care unit Samaritan's Purse Emergency Field Hospital in Central Park is opening on Wednesday, in partnership with the Mount Sinai Health System.

  • The Javits Convention Center is being transformed into an emergency hospital, with the first 1,000-bed facility accepting patients on Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced.
  • De Blasio said it would take three weeks to build the makeshift 350-bed hospital at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

What he's saying: De Blasio said he questioned the field hospital projections at first. But he added, "Look at how quickly a hospital can be created. Whether it is in a place like the Javits Center or a place like this tennis center or a hotel, we know how to make any number of buildings into a hospital in a matter of days."

  • The mayor said "thousands of beds" would be built at the Javits Center alone. The Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort, docked in New York, "starts with 750" beds, but "it can go up to 1,000 beds," he added.
  • "Lot of hotels, hundreds and hundreds of beds each," De Blasio said. "We’re just going to keep going every single day, adding and adding and adding to get to the point where we have what we need."

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America is anxious, angry and heavily armed

Data: FBI; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Firearms background checks in the U.S. hit a record high in 2020.

The big picture: This past year took our collective arsenal to new heights, with millions of Americans buying guns for the first time. That trend coincides with a moment of peak political and social tension.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

America on borrowed time

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic recovery will not be linear as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.