NEW YORK - New York City’s mayor appealed to Washington on Tuesday to send him nearly 1,500 more medical personnel by Sunday, as coronavirus cases surpass 43,000 and more city landmarks are converted into field hospitals.
“This coming Sunday, April 5, is the demarcation line,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters. “This is the point at which we must be prepared for next week when we expect a huge increase in the number of cases.”
He said he made the request last week to the White House and Pentagon to deploy 1,000 nurses, 150 doctors and 300 respiratory therapists from the military and its reserves.
“We must have that additional personnel to be able to get through next week and the weeks right after that,” the mayor said. “I’m waiting for an answer from the White House. It is a reasonable request given that we are the nation’s largest city and we are the epicenter of this crisis.”
Nearly 1,000 city residents have succumbed to the virus and thousands are currently hospitalized. The need for hospital beds and health care workers is expected to grow in early April when virus cases are projected to peak.
Speaking at the home of the annual U.S. Open tennis tournament in the borough of Queens, de Blasio said the city is in a race against time to be ready.
The tennis facility is currently being converted into a 350-bed field hospital. It will take non-intensive care unit coronavirus patients from nearby Elmhurst hospital, which has been on the front lines of the pandemic and has been overstretched by thousands of patients requiring care.
The tennis center is one of several city landmarks that have been enlisted in the battle to fight COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. A similar facility will be constructed at a Brooklyn cruise ship terminal.
In Central Park, Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse is erecting a 14-tent, 68-bed respiratory care unit. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has built a 1,000-bed facility inside the city’s main convention center, and the U.S. Navy has moored a 1,000-bed hospital ship in the city’s harbor to care for non-coronavirus patients, freeing local hospital beds for those sickened by the respiratory virus.
The city’s emergency system has been overwhelmed by the surge in calls for ambulances, and the mayor announced that the federal government is sending 250 ambulances as well as 500 paramedics to the city. Already 135 ambulances and 270 paramedics have arrived, and the rest are due in the coming days.
Statewide, more than 330 people have died from the virus since Monday, the highest single-day toll yet.
New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo said his team is continuing its effort to purchase 30,000 ventilators — half of those would go to New York City.
He said Tuesday that the state has ordered 17,000 ventilators from China at an approximate cost of about $425 million. Cuomo said delivery is slow due to the high demand and he hopes to receive at least 2,500 ventilators over the next two weeks.
On a personal note, the governor said that his younger brother, CNN journalist Chris Cuomo, had tested positive for the coronavirus, but is doing well.
“Everyone — everyone — is subject to this virus,” he said. “It is the great equalizer.”