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Trump administration to help states expand hospital capacity

Trump administration to help states expand hospital capacity
© UPI Photo

The Trump administration is exploring ways to quickly expand hospital capacity ahead of what could be a wave of coronavirus patients that would threaten to overwhelm the health care system.

Vice President Pence on Tuesday said the administration will consider every request from governors to quickly deploy "field hospitals" or use the Army Corps of Engineers to convert existing facilities.

"The president has tasked us to evaluate and ... consider every request from governors for either field hospitals, or the Army Corps of Engineers that could retrofit existing buildings," Pence said during a briefing of the administration's coronavirus task force.

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President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: LeBron James's 'racist rants' are divisive, nasty North Carolina man accused of fraudulently obtaining .5M in PPP loans Biden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies MORE said the Army Corps of Engineers is "ready, willing and able" to deploy if needed, and the administration is looking at using it in areas that have been the hardest hit.

"We think we can have quite a few units up very rapidly," Trump said, adding he will specifically be working with New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoReporters criticize Andrew Cuomo for lack of media access in wake of scandals New York Post encourages everyone in city to get vaccinated Investigators in Cuomo impeachment probe receive 200 tips MORE (D) and California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia reports 'sharp decline' in public school enrollment amid pandemic Governors call on Biden to back shift to zero-emission cars by 2035 NPR journalist discusses home affordability in California MORE (D) about different sites that could be used.

Cuomo on Monday ordered state health officials to reopen closed hospitals and to convert other facilities in order to accommodate patients.

Cuomo said New York City would need an estimated 5,000 additional beds. Nassau and Suffolk counties likely need another 1,000 beds each, and Westchester County — the heart of the state's outbreak in New Rochelle — needs 2,000 new beds.

Newsom said the state’s hospital system currently has 74,000 beds, and is in negotiations to reopen closed hospitals.

Health officials across the country have expressed concern that without action, the coronavirus could overwhelm the nation's health system, similar to what is happening in Italy.

Some states and cities have also run short on the personal protective gear that first responders and health care providers must wear.