Washington : Donald Trump has declared New York State a major disaster area as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases skyrocketed and New York City was declared the epicenter of the US outbreak by city Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The US military will now be called in, and the US Army Corps of Engineers have said they plans to take over hotels, sports arenas, college dorms and other buildings in a bid to bolster the number of available hospital rooms.
De Blasio had urged Trump to send in the military and its logistical support to hard-hit New York State, California and Seattle on Wednesday.
On Friday de Blasio said: "We constitute 30 percent of the cases in the US and 70 per cent of the cases in New York State. Whether we like it or not, we are the epicenter."
The president's declaration comes as a hospital in the Bronx revealed it is running low on ventilators and a Queens doctor revealed that an elderly patient experiencing coronavirus symptoms died on the hospital ward floor.
New York reviewing sites for more hospital beds, Cuomo says
New York is reviewing places to put new hospital beds in response to the coronavirus outbreak, including New York City's main convention center and some state university campuses, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
Boost hospital capacity
The goal is to get hospital capacity, which now stands at around 50,000, up to 75,000 beds, Cuomo said at a news briefing.
Possible locations for temporary hospitals, which would be operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, include Stony Brook University and SUNY College at Old Westbury on Long Island and the Westchester County Center, in addition to Manhattan's Javits Center, Cuomo said.
"Everything that can be done is being done," he 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 mask are being sent to New York City hospitals Saturday, and 500,000 to Long Island, he said.
The state is also rounding up ventilators from around the state and purchasing 6,000 to deploy to the most critical areas, Cuomo said.
Officials are requesting four military field hospitals with 250 beds each, Cuomo said.
The state's COVID-19 caseload is now at 10,400, with about 1,600 people hospitalized.