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Cuomo issues executive order allowing state to increase hospital capacity

Press Release

Mon, Mar 16th 2020 04:55 pm

State will organize National Guard, building unions and private developers to identify sites to retrofit existing buildings and convert them to medical facilities with goal of creating 9,000 additional beds

Directs nonessential state workforce statewide to work from home starting tomorrow

Directs local governments to reduce workforce by 50% and allow nonessential employees to work from home

NYS will waive all park fees in state, local & county parks

During a novel coronavirus briefing Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued an executive order allowing the state to increase hospital capacity to prepare the state's health care system to handle the potential influx of patients suffering from COVID-19.

The state will organize the National Guard and work with building unions and private developers to find existing facilities – such as dormitories and former nursing homes – that can most easily be converted to medical facilities, with the goal of creating an additional 9,000 beds. The governor also asked local governments, especially those in the most impacted areas, to help identify available facilities for this purpose. The State Department of Health is also suspending regulations to allow existing hospitals to increase space and capacity. 

The governor has asked Greater New York Hospital Association President Ken Raske and Northwell Health President Michael Dowling to lead a council to develop hospital surge capacity.

"Our main priority right now is reducing the rate of spread of this virus so it can be managed by our health care system," Cuomo said. "We have never fought a virus like this with this potential consequence, and I am taking executive action to reconfigure and increase capacity at hospitals across the state to ensure our health care facilities can handle a potentially massive surge of patients. We are fighting a war against this virus, and the state will continue taking every step necessary to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of this virus."

•The governor directed nonessential state employees statewide to work from home starting tomorrow. He also directed local governments to reduce their overall workforce by 50% and allow nonessential employees to work from home.

•Following the governor's directive to close schools in Westchester, New York City, Nassau and Suffolk yesterday, Cuomo said the counties are required to submit their child care and meal plans to the state for approval by midnight tonight.

•The governor also announced New York will waive all fees for state, local and county parks. 

•Additionally, Cuomo authorized the state to open a drive-through mobile testing facility on Staten Island – the first drive-through facility in New York City – and in Rockland County. This follows the success of the New Rochelle mobile testing center, which opened March 13. Drive-through mobile testing facilities help keep people who are sick or at risk of having contracted coronavirus out of health care facilities where they could infect other people.

Congressman Max Rose said, "It's critical to expand testing in a manner that doesn't overwhelm our hospitals and health care providers. Drive-through testing is a proven way to do that and I thank the governor working with us to make Staten Island be the first site in the city. This kind of decisive action is what our constituents expect from our leaders in a crisis and I will continue to work with the governor to make sure New Yorkers have every resource available to them in order to beat the epidemic."

Cuomo strongly advised that only essential services and businesses – groceries, gas stations, pharmacies and medical facilities – stay open after 8 pm. Earlier today, Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced a regional approach to combating COVID-19 throughout the tri-state area, including uniform standards to limit crowd capacity for social and recreational gatherings to 50 people, and mandates that restaurants and bars temporarily suspend on-premise service.

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