Apr 1, 2020 - Health

NYC races to build field hospitals as coronavirus death toll tops 1,000

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

Updated 13 mins ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Health experts fear that the protests breaking out across the U.S. could contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

The state of play: Being outside may limit the danger, but close quarters, yelling, and potential exposure to tear gas, which causes coughing and crying, increase the risk of spread. It's recommended that those who are protesting be tested for the coronavirus.

May 31, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus looms over George Floyd protests across the country

Protestors rally in Minneapolis. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Health experts fear that massive protests against police brutality in major cities around the United States could result in new coronavirus outbreaks due to the close proximity of demonstrators, AP reports.

Why it matters: The U.S. has already recorded more confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths than any other country in the world. A potential surge in cases stemming from the protests would come as many states are weeks into their phased reopening plans.

Increased armed presence planned for D.C. tonight

Demonstrators stand around a fire during a protest near the White House in response to the killing of George Floyd. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Government officials say plans are in place for a significantly heavier armed presence on the streets of Washington, D.C. tonight in response to the increasingly violent protests linked to the death of George Floyd.

What we're hearing: "Tonight you will see increased presence, both police...other agencies, and National Guard presence," a source familiar with the government's plans said.