NYC aims to triple hospital beds for coronavirus patients; medical supplies restocked ‘day to day, hour to hour’

Tribune Content Agency

NEW YORK — New York City wants to triple its number of hospital beds by May to address the surge of patients with coronavirus — even as Mayor Bill de Blasio said restocking the system with supplies may be done “hour to hour.”

There are currently some 20,000 beds in public and private hospitals across the five boroughs and de Blasio said Thursday he hopes to add another 40,000 in the coming weeks amid a pandemic that has already overwhelmed the city’s health care system.

De Blasio also told doctors, nurses and other health care workers that the city will get them the supplies they need “one way or another” if “we can get our hands on it.”

De Blasio admitted he couldn’t guarantee the city will be able to triple capacity, calling that “an extraordinarily difficult goal.”

Nearly 22,000 people have been infected with coronavirus in New York City as the death toll reached 281 on Thursday morning. At least 3,750 people were hospitalized and at least 840 of them were in the ICU as of Wednesday night.

The state’s surge plan asking all city hospitals to increase capacity will add at least 7,000 beds “quickly,” de Blasio said. With more created in locations outside hospitals — including the Javits Center — the city will have about 34,000 beds total.

To help boost supplies in hospitals — makeshift or not — de Blasio once again called on President Donald Trump to actually use the Defense Production Act to force manufacturers to make ventilators, face masks, protective gear and other necessary medical equipment.

“This is going to be a day to day, hour to hour reality,” de Blasio said of providing hospitals with supplies. “I know this week that we have the supplies in this city we need, I hope we can get through next week.”

The city got 500 new ventilators working with the White House and will have received 2,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the next few days. But that’s just a sixth of the 15,000 ventilators the city needs for coronavirus patients.

De Blasio said Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, where doctors and nurses are struggling with an “extraordinary surge” in cases, has gotten resupplied with additional ventilators four times in the last 10 days.

The city sent 40 to Elmhurst on Thursday, along with 56 additional staffers, after the hospital saw 13 people infected with coronavirus die in a single 24-hour span this week.


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