It may be 45 days until COVID-19 infections peak in New York, and when they do the state will need as many as 110,000 hospital beds to treat the sick, Governor Andrew Cuomo says.
Cuomo doubled down on messaging about the state's urgent need for more hospital beds Tuesday, while announcing that cases of COVID-19 in New York had risen almost 50 percent overnight, to 1,374 cases Tuesday morning.
On Monday he announced that New York was scrambling to increase its healthcare capacity before a "wave" of coronavirus patients breaks on the hospital system. If the governor's 45-day forecasting is correct, that wave would hit early May.
Cuomo said New York has 5,000 hospital beds and only 3,000 ICU beds, but he predicts the state will need many more. He called on the federal government Monday to deploy the Army Corps of Engineers to work with states to build temporary medical facilities and install back-up beds for inevitable hospital overflow.
He also announced that they would mobilize the National Guard to work with building unions and private developers to find existing facilities that can be easily adapted to become medical facilities. Examples include dormitories, former nursing homes and other facilities that have a basic configuration that can be retro-fitted.
Local governments were called on to help the state identify places in their areas that could easily be converted.
Certain hospital regulations would also be relaxed to allow for more capacity in existing healthcare facilities. Existing hospitals would be allowed to increase their numbers of beds per room, decrease the required space between beds and other measures to maximize their capacity. The state is also actively trying to source more doctors and healthcare workers to deal with an expected surge in new patients.
On Monday, the governor warned private hospitals that non-critical elective surgery may soon be canceled. Elective surgeries currently use about 25 - 35 percent of the available beds, Cuomo said. "We may ask them to plan to cancel non-critical elective surgeries -- we will need that capacity in the hospitals when those numbers peak."