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 John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves 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 CuomoOvernight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill 13 things to know for today about coronavirus Poll: Majority disapprove of Trump on coronavirus MORE (D) and California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomSocial distancing works, but resistance prompts worries of growing crisis Newsom announces partnership with FEMA to find shelter for most vulnerable homeless populations California governor responds to Nunes on canceling school: 'We'll continue to listen to the experts' 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.