NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The home of the U.S. Open will be transformed into a temporary hospital to take some of the pressure off Elmhurst Hospital, which was been described as the "epicenter of the epicenter" of the coronavirus outbreak.
An indoor training area at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center will house a 350-bed medical facility that will accept COVID-19 patients from Elmhurst Hospital, which has borne the brunt of the crisis in the city.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said while it will take three weeks to build out the facility, it will start receiving non-ICU coronavirus patients next week.
"This place will be a life saving place," de Blasio said. "I'm looking forward to the day when this is going to be a place for tennis again but in the meantime I'm inspired by the fact that people are stepping up."
The Louis Armstrong Stadium is being converted into a commissary, to turn out 25,000 meals a day for patients and New York City schoolkids. They will be prepared every day with six meals per package.
The city has been rushing to triple its hospital capacity in anticipation of the apex, which is expected to hit in a matter of weeks. A 68-bed field hospital has been set up in Central Park's East Meadow, a temporary facility has also opened at the Javits Center and the 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort arrived on Monday.
The mayor thanked the federal government for providing 2,500 ventilators for the city, but said they will need 15,000 total.
"We are racing against time right now," said de Blasio, who also called on oral surgeons, plastic surgeons, and veterinarians to offer any available ventilators to the effort. "We need it now, it should not be sitting there doing nothing, this is a war effort, everyone needs to contribute, you'll get it back when this battle is over."
De Blasio said they'll be distributing distributing 3 million surgical masks, 800,000 N95 masks, 600,000 gloves, 120,000 face shields and 40,000 surgical gowns to hospitals, but that there's always a need for more supplies.
Anyone who is able to provide ventilators, or other supplies including personal protective equipment, is asked to visit nyc.gov/helpnow.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York grew by more than 9,000 overnight Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 75,795.
Most of the cases continue to be in New York City, which had an increase of 5,686 cases overnight, for a total of 43,139 cases.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also put out a call to other states to send their healthcare workers to New York to help.
De Blasio also announced Tuesday that FEMA will bring 250 more ambulances and approximately 500 more EMTs and paramedics to New York City, which has seen a 50% increase in emergency calls during the crisis.
"Our EMTs and paramedics are doing unbelievable work under the toughest of circumstances," said de Blasio. "This week, I promised them help was on the way, and today it is. Our partnership with FEMA will give our first responders the help they need to continue being the heroes of our city."
On Tuesday, that mayor also announced that 900 inmates have been released from city jails, non-essnential construction must end or face fines, alternate side parking rules have been suspended through April 14, and 10 playgrounds have been ordered to close because people were not abiding by social distancing rules.