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Coronavirus Update: Cuomo Reiterates, New York State Doesn't Have Enough ICU Beds

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo is warning the volume of coronavirus patients may soon be too much for New York's hospitals.

The race is on to build more capacity, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Monday.

"Deploy the Army Corps of Engineers to come work with states to build temporary medical facilities," Cuomo said.

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The governor was making a direct plea to President Donald Trump for help. He said the state has around 3,000 intensive card unit beds, but they're already 80% occupied.

"You overwhelm the hospitals, you have people on gurneys in hallways," Cuomo said.

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He added thousands of ventilators and ICU beds could be needed in the coming weeks.

Dr. David Battinelli, Northwell Health medical director, said respirators and masks are being used judiciously and plans are in place.

"We've already canceled most of the elective cases within our hospitals, so that'll give us opportunity for bed capacity," Battinelli said. "Worst-case scenario, we might be doubling up in rooms that are currently single, but we are actually outfitted to have those be doubles."


NYU Langone Medical Center's Tisch Hospital has already transformed a pediatric emergency room into a respiratory unit for adults.

The Mount Sinai Health System is asking doctors not to take personal trips, in case there is a surge in patients, and the head of New York City's Health and Hospitals said each of the 11 acute care hospitals have a plan to take on 100 extra patients each. In some cases, it would transform a cafeteria, an auditorium, or utilize parking lots, putting up tents made for creating clinical areas.

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Under Mayor Mike Bloomberg's administration, around a dozen New York City hospitals closed due to financial pressures. A 2005 commission formed by then-Gov. George Pataki recommended a 10% reduction in hospitals.

Dr. Bruce Y. Lee is a professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health.

"Not just in New York, but there's been a lot of consolidation of health care, so you've had mergers and acquisitions and different facilities being shut down," Lee said. "This is an unintended consequence of that occurring."

Cuomo said for now the state is organizing the National Guard and building units to change facilities like dorms and former nursing homes into intensive care units.

The governor said 5,000 extra beds have now been identified in New York City.

The White House did not get back to CBS2 for comment on whether the president will offer federal resources to build extra space.

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