Trump administration to help states expand hospital capacity
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.
President Trump 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 Cuomo (D) and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (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.