Conversion of the main showroom floor of the Javits Center in Manhattan is expected to begin this week, turning the 1.8 million square feet of convention space into New York City's first field hospital amid the coronavirus crisis, CBS New York reports.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the plans Saturday and toured the space Monday afternoon. He said setting up four 250-bed field hospitals at the site would take about a week to 10 days.
"This is going to get much worse before it gets better," said Cuomo. "We are still in the relative calm before the storm. You're going to see the number of infections, the number of cases increase dramatically.
"You're going to see an over-capacity of our health system," he said. "Right now we're projecting you'll see more people come into the health care system than we can handle."
In addition to the initial 1,000 beds, Cuomo said 1,000 beds for "lighter medical care" could also be built within the Javits Center, a venue that until known has been known for events like auto shows and comic cons, not medical care.
"This was never an intended use, but you do what you have to do," Cuomo said. "That's the New York way. That's the American way."
In total there will be 320 federal staffers working in the initial combined site within Javits, covering 160,000 square feet.
Other locations Cuomo put on his list as field hospital sites included the campuses at SUNY Stony Brook and SUNY Westbury on Long Island, and the Westchester Convention Center, north of New York City. Each of those would have one 250-bed unit under the management of FEMA.
New York is facing the largest number of people infected with coronavirus in the U.S., with more than 12,000 confirmed cases as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In Cuomo's earlier press briefing Monday, he urged retired health care professionals to lend their hands in response to the pandemic by enlisting online.