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Makeshift Morgue Built at NYC’s Bellevue Hospital Ahead of COVID-19 Surge

The wave, now more like a tsunami, could crash on the health care system in three weeks, officials say

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Workers are building a makeshift morgue outside of a Manhattan hospital to deal with an anticipated surge of coronavirus victims in New York City in the coming weeks. Chilling photos from the construction site Wednesday showed rows of white tents being set up outside Bellevue Hospital.

The city medical examiner was building the makeshift morgue on the East Side in the face of mounting deaths, City Hall said. The measure, which has been used in the past during mass casualty events like 9/11, falls within the purview of the city emergency declaration that Mayor Bill de Blasio signed weeks ago, a spokesperson for the mayor's office said. Officials say they’re operating from a playbook developed to handle a surge in deaths from possible pandemic developed in 2008.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 in New York City in recent weeks has hastened the approach of the "apex" of the crisis in the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The wave, now more like a tsunami, could crash on the health care system in three weeks -- and with life-saving supplies already heavily depleted, New York is increasingly desperate for resources to get through just the immediate future.

As of Wednesday, more than 30,800 cases had been confirmed in New York, an increase of more than 5,000 overnight. At least 285 people have died. The city, impaired by the density that makes it one of the world's most vibrant places, bears the brunt of the impact, with more than 17,850 cases across the five boroughs as of Wednesday morning. The mayor's office said the death toll had soared to 199, a 50 percent increase over the course of a day.

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