Cuomo To National Guard: 'This Is A Rescue Mission'

Sign up for WCBS 880's daily newsletter for the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday morning that he will ask the federal government for permission to build four more emergency hospitals in New York City to deal with the coronavirus. 

In a press conference at the Javits Center in Manhattan, Cuomo said that they are hoping to building the temporary facilities at the New York Expo Center in the Bronx, the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, and the College of Staten Island. Each hospital would have 1,000 beds.

WATCH: A Look Inside The New Temporary Hospital At Javits Center

Cuomo also said that schools in the state will remain closed until at least Apr. 15, and that schools will continue to provide distance learning and meals. 

The number of cases in New York State has increased to 44,635 cases, with 25,398 in New York City.

In total, 519 people have died from COVID-19, up from 385 yesterday.

So far, 6,481 people have been hospitalized in the state. The rate of the hospitalization increase is slowing, with the numbers doubling every four days now, up from every two last week. 

Another 1,000 hospital beds will become available on Monday when the USNS Comfort arrives in New York Harbor.

The governor said that he was also looking the dorms at City College and Queens College, as well as the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge Hotel and the Brooklyn Center Nursing Home, for extra bed capacity over the next several weeks.

Speaking to the National Guard who had set up the temporary hospital at the Javits Center, he thanked them for their hard work. (Video on top of page)

"This is a different beast that we're dealing with," Cuomo said. "This is an invisible beast, it is an insidious beast. This is not gonna be a short deployment. This is going to be weeks and weeks and weeks. This is going to be a long day and it's going to be a hard day and it's going to be an ugly day and it's going to be a sad day. This is a rescue mission that you're on, the mission is to save lives. That's what you're doing and as hard as we work, we're not going to be able to save everyone." 

"And what's even more cruel is this enemy doesn't attack the strongest of us, it attacks the weakest of us. It attacks our most vulnerable, which makes it even worse because these are the people that every instinct tells us we're supposed to protect. These are our parents and our grandparents, these are our aunts and uncles, these are our relatives that are sick. And every instinct tells us protect them, help them because they need us and those are the exact people that this enemy attacks."

"Every time I've called out the National Guard, I've said the same thing to you. I promise you that I will not ask you to do anything that I will not do myself and I'll never ask you to go anywhere that I won't go myself. And the same is true here. We're going to do this and we're going to do this together."

"My second point is, you are living in a moment of history. This is going to be one of those moments they're going to write about and they're going to talk about for generations. This is a moment that is going to change this nation. This is a moment that forges character, forges people, changes people - makes them stronger, makes them weaker - but this is a moment that will change character."

"And 10 years from now you'll be talking about today to your children or your grandchildren and you will shed a tear, because you will remember the lives lost and you'll remember the faces and you'll remember the names and you'll remember how hard we worked and that we still lost loved ones. And you'll shed a tear – and you should because it will be sad – but you will also be proud. You'll be proud of what you did, you'll be proud that you showed up when other people played it safe, you had the courage to show up. And you had the skill and the professionalism to make a difference and save lives. That's what you will have done."

"And at the end of the day nobody can ask anything more from you. That is your duty, to do what you can, when you can and you will have shown skill and courage and talent. You'll be there with your mind, you'll be there with your heart and you'll serve with honor. And that will give you pride and you should be proud. I know that I am proud of you."

"Every time the National Guard has been called out they have made every New Yorker proud and I am proud to be with you yet again and I'm proud to fight this fight with you and I bring you thanks from all New Yorkers who are just so appreciative of the sacrifice that you are making, the skill that you're bringing, the talent that you're bringing and you give many New Yorkers confidence. So I say, my friends, that we go out there today and we kick coronavirus ass and we're going to save lives and New York is gonna thank you."

Stay informed, stay connected — follow WCBS 880 on Facebook and TwitterDownload the RADIO.COM app + favorite WCBS 880 for breaking news, traffic and weather alerts.