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States plan for makeshift hospitals as coronavirus "bullet train" threatens to overwhelm health care systems

NY hospitals battle virus: "A catastrophe"
Scenes of "catastrophe" as New York hospitals battle coronavirus 03:57

States are urgently searching for more space to house coronavirus patients as many hospitals across the country already expect to be overwhelmed. New York state alone expects to need roughly 87,000 more hospital beds than they currently have for when the virus hits its peak.

"I will turn this state upside down to get the number of beds we need, but we need the staff for those beds," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Cuomo called the virus a "bullet train" racing across the country. New York, currently the epicenter of the U.S.' coronavirus cases, is still two to three weeks away from the worst of the virus.

On Monday, Cuomo toured the Jacob Javits Convention Center, where the Army Corps of Engineers is setting up an urban field hospital. The convention center has previously been used for events like New York Comic Con and the New York International Auto Show.

New York Governor Cuomo pleads for 30,000 ventilators 04:01

New York will get further backup when the USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship, helps overwhelmed medical communities there, while the USNS Mercy will carry out a similar task in Los Angeles. 

Vice Admiral Matt Nathan told CBS News' Jonathan Vigliotti the ships' main role "would be to decompress current land-based hospitals in those cities of non-COVID patients who still need hospital attention."

Across the country, a soccer field outside of Seattle is expected to house a makeshift hospital to help with basic care as Washington state hospitals prioritize patients with COVID-19. Similarly, a Miami, Florida, fairground will become a field hospital. 

Nathan said the Navy ships are "in the readiness business" and will stand ready to serve both the East and West coast when hospitals and their staff need support.

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