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Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares to reopen COVID field hospital at NYC’s Javits Center

Governor Andrew Cuomo is preparing to turn the Javits Center back into a field hospital – despite it only taking in 1,000 patients back in April when New York City was the virus epicenter of the world.

Cuomo’s office told the New York Post the state of New York is gearing up to reactivate the 2,500-bed makeshift hospital amid fears that the Big Apple’s hospitals and healthcare systems could once again buckle under the weight of the pandemic.    

New York City passed a grim milestone of 25,000 COVID-19 deaths Monday and 69 percent of hospital beds and 72 percent of ICU beds are now full. 

The Javits convention center based in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen was turned into a 2,500-bed hospital back in March, making it the largest hospital in the country fighting the pandemic at the time.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is preparing to turn the Javits Center (pictured in March) back into a field hospital – despite it only taking in 1,000 patients back in April when New York City was the virus epicenter of the world

But the facility closed early May after treating just over 1,100 patients after the state said it was no longer needed. 

It was also originally set up to only take in non-COVID-19 patients. 

But this decision resulted in beds lying empty while patients and bodies spilled out into the corridors of the city’s overwhelmed hospitals.

In April, the center then started accepting COVID-19 patients.    

It is not clear if the Javits Center will cater to COVID-19 patients if it is reactivated.

Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi told the Post the state had been preparing the field hospitals ‘for weeks’ as hospitalizations surge once more. 

‘New York state for weeks has been undertaking preparations to have emergency hospital facilities to be ready for potential surge in cases, including sites such as the Javits where much of the infrastructure is still in place and could be mobilized quickly if the increase in hospitalizations is worse than expected,’ he said.

Cuomo's office told the New York Post the state of New York is gearing up to reactivate the 2,500-bed makeshift hospital amid fears that the Big Apple's hospitals and healthcare systems could once again buckle under the weight of the pandemic

Cuomo’s office told the New York Post the state of New York is gearing up to reactivate the 2,500-bed makeshift hospital amid fears that the Big Apple’s hospitals and healthcare systems could once again buckle under the weight of the pandemic

Azzopardi said the state still hopes the facilities won’t need to be activated but officials are ‘laser focused’ on expanding hospital capacity if – or when – necessary.

‘We urge New Yorkers to continue to be SMART so we can avoid a surge that overwhelms our hospital system and these facilities do not have to be activated.’ 

Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health which ran the field hospital alongside the state and the army, said reopening the center is a ‘worst-case scenario’ and one he doesn’t expect to happen in reality.

‘There are no plans to open Javits right now. But if we do need to, the pre-planning is done,’ Dowling told the Post. 

‘Right now I think the likelihood of reopening is minimal. We want to be ready if something drastic occurs.’ 

DailyMail.com has reached out to Cuomo’s office for more information. 

The Javits convention center in Manhattan was turned into a 2,500-bed hospital back in March. The facility closed early May after treating just over 1,100 patients after the state said it was no longer needed (above army personnel with a patient)

The Javits convention center in Manhattan was turned into a 2,500-bed hospital back in March. The facility closed early May after treating just over 1,100 patients after the state said it was no longer needed (above army personnel with a patient)

It was also originally set up to only take in non-COVID-19 patients. In April, the center then started accepting COVID-19 patients. It is not clear if the Javits Center will cater to COVID-19 patients this time

It was also originally set up to only take in non-COVID-19 patients. In April, the center then started accepting COVID-19 patients. It is not clear if the Javits Center will cater to COVID-19 patients this time

The Javits was one of a number of field hospitals that were installed to help ease the burden on the city’s hospitals, only to be dismantled weeks later after only taking a small number of patients.  

The USNS Comfort Navy hospital ship was drafted in to Manhattan at the height the pandemic on March 30, but was waved off a month later on April 30 after it treated just 182 patients within its 1,000-bed capacity. 

Some makeshift facilities such as the 670-bed makeshift hospital at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook were demobilized before taking in a single COVID-19 or non-COVID-19 patient. 

Then there was the 14-test makeshift hospital erected in Central Park at the end of March by Samaritan’s Purse, which shuttered in May after treating 315 patients.  

The USNS Comfort Navy hospital ship was drafted in to Manhattan at the height the pandemic on March 30, but was waved off a month later on April 30 after it treated just 182 patients within its 1,000-bed capacity (pictured arriving March 30)

The USNS Comfort Navy hospital ship was drafted in to Manhattan at the height the pandemic on March 30, but was waved off a month later on April 30 after it treated just 182 patients within its 1,000-bed capacity (pictured arriving March 30)

Over in Flushing, the Billie Jean King Tennis Center was also converted into a 350-bed hospital at a cost of $19.8 million to at as an overflow for the nearby Elmhurst Hospital in Queens but closed after taking in just 79 patients. 

This drew widespread criticism as millions were invested into building the facilities and they provided little relief to overburdened hospitals. 

The state has blamed the shortfall on the federal government, saying government rules stopped the facility taking in COVID-19 patients at the height of the pandemic.  

The rules were later changed and COVID-19 patients were admitted to the facilities. 

The state’s preparations come as New York City hit a grim milestone Tuesday as officials announced that deaths linked to coronavirus have now surpassed 25,000.

The city’s health department confirmed there have now been 25,055 fatalities. 

Statewide the positivity rate reached 7.14 percent Tuesday. 


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