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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.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

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

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

3 hours ago - World

Australian PM pledges $700M for climate change-threatened Great Barrier reef

A green sea turtle is flourishing among the corals at Lady Elliot island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday a AU$1 billion ($703 million) investment plan for the Great Barrier Reef.

Why it matters: The nine-year plan for projects including water quality improvement, reef conservation and supporting some 64,000 tourism jobs comes months ahead of this year's federal election. It has been criticized by scientists and environmental groups for failing to tackle climate change.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.