New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that President Donald Trump is sending a floating hospital to help the state manage an onslaught of coronavirus cases expected to surge in the next 45 days.
"Right now, in New York specifically, the rate of the curve suggests that in 45 days we could have up to an input of people who need 110,000 beds that compares to our current capacity of 53,000 beds, 37,000 ICU units, ventilators, which compares to a capacity currently of 3,000 ventilators. That's our main issue," Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany.
As of Wednesday morning, the number of people infected with the coronavirus in New York state nearly doubled to more than 2,300, Cuomo said. Of those cases, nearly 23% are hospitalized.
Cuomo doubled the number of projected hospital beds and revised the hospitalization rate from his estimates on Tuesday, when he said the state needed 55,000 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients and said the hospitalization rate was 19%.
The hospitalization rate of coronavirus cases in the state is significantly higher than the global average of 10%. Though Cuomo didn't provide an estimate of total projected cases in New York, the numbers are staggering if new infections follow the current hospitalization rate. At 23%, coronavirsus cases across the state would exceed 500,000 by early or mid-May to get to the 110,000 hospitalizations projected by state officials.
The Comfort, a vessel transformed from a hulking oil tanker into a 1,000-bed hospital ship, is one of the military's two floating lifesavers. Its home port is the Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. military would provide up to 5 million respirator masks and other items of personal protective equipment to safeguard front-line responders, as well as up to 2,000 specialized ventilators.
The USNS Comfort and its West Coast twin the USNS Mercy, are nearly three football fields long and 10 stories high, making them indisputably the largest hospital ships in the world.
The threat of COVID-19 comes at an already busy time for most U.S. hospitals. Another serious respiratory illness, the seasonal flu, is at its peak in the United States, with more than 36 million cases and many hospitals stretched thin. Earlier in the outbreak, doctors warned that a larger outbreak of the new coronavirus across the U.S. could overwhelm emergency rooms and quickly cause supply shortages of some crucial medical supplies.
The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced Monday they have agreed to a common set of rules to reduce density throughout the region, closing movie theaters, most restaurants and bars and limiting public gatherings to fewer than 50 people.
Earlier Wednesday, Cuomo told The New York Times he wouldn't approve a possible request by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for a "shelter-in-place" order for the city. On Monday, De Blasio said he was considering such an order.
As of Wednesday, more than 201,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported across the globe, resulting in at least 8,000 deaths. Cases in China, where the virus originated, topped 81,000.