NEW YORK (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is scouring the globe for medical supplies and scouting field hospital locations in and around New York City. Flights were briefly suspended flights to New York City-area airports because of staffing issues. The number of coronavirus cases statewide soared above 10,000.
More on the latest coronavirus developments Saturday in New York:
HOSPITAL BEDS & SUPPLIES
New York is scouring the globe for desperately needed medical supplies and scouting field hospital locations in New York City and its suburbs as confirmed coronavirus cases soared above 10,000 statewide, Cuomo said Saturday.
The goal is to quickly boost the state’s hospital capacity from around 50,000 beds to 75,000 beds, Cuomo said at a news briefing. The state has already hospitalized 1,600 people.
The governor said the state is looking to see if Manhattan’s spacious Javits Center could be suitable for 1,000 requested beds supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in a “tent configuration” with equipment and staff.
Possible locations for temporary hospital structures built by the Army Corps of Engineers include Stony Brook University and SUNY College at Old Westbury on Long Island, and the Westchester County Center north of the city. Sites will be reviewed Saturday, he said.
“Everything that can be done is being done,” Cuomo said.
Officials have identified 2 million face masks that can be sent to hot spots, Cuomo said, and apparel companies are pivoting to make masks. One million masks are being sent to New York City hospitals Saturday, and 500,000 to Long Island. And with hospital gowns in short supply, the state is trying to obtain gown material for apparel makers, he said.
The state is also rounding up critically needed ventilators from around the state and purchasing 6,000 to deploy to the most critical areas, Cuomo said. And they are investigating whether multiple patients can be served by a single ventilator.
“We are literally scouring the globe looking for medical supplies,” Cuomo said.
The state also will immediately conduct trials of an experimental treatment with hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax. The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine has been touted by President Donald Trump as a possible answer-in-waiting to the outbreak, though many experts caution more testing needs to be done. Cuomo said the Food and Drug Administration is sending 10,000 doses to the state.
The Federal Aviation Administration briefly suspended flights to New York City-area airports on Saturday because of coronavirus-related staffing issues.
In an alert posted online Saturday, the FAA advised air traffic controllers to “stop all departures” to Kennedy, LaGuardia, Newark and other airports in the region because of staffing issues at a regional air-traffic control center on Long Island.
The halt, which also affected Philadelphia International Airport, was lifted after about 30 minutes. Initially air traffic controllers were warned it could last several hours.
Air traffic controllers at Kennedy had been operating from an alternate location on airport property this week after an FAA technician assigned to the airport’s control tower tested positive for COVID-19. In a statement, the FAA said that the technician hadn’t been to work since March 11 and that the tower was being cleaned as a precaution.
Toll collectors on the New York State Thruway will stop collecting cash Sunday night as a safety measure. Thruway operators say drivers without an E-ZPass tag should enter through a cash lane without taking a ticket when they enter the highway. When they exit the highway, drivers will need to tell a toll collector which exit they entered and provide license plate information. A bill will be sent to the owner of the vehicle in about a month. There are no changes for drivers with E-ZPass.