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As virus toll mounts in NY, more hospitals sought

AP
Updated: March 27, 2020 06:26 PM
Created: March 26, 2020 12:26 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump and elected leaders in New York are clashing again over the depth of the state's coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, the outbreak is taking its toll on the state's civil servants, with the virus claiming the lives of bus and train workers and a civilian employee of the New York Police Department.

There are more than 6,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in New York, with almost 1,600 in intensive care. New York has logged a nation-high of 519 deaths, and has more than 44,000 confirmed cases.

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Here are the latest coronavirus developments in New York:

MORE HOSPITALS SOUGHT

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state wants to build four more temporary hospitals in New York City within weeks, before coronavirus cases are projected to peak.

The state is seeking authorization from the Trump administration to add 4,000 beds in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. The hospitals would be constructed at a horse track, a city college, an expo center and a cruise ship terminal.

The requested conversions are part of the state’s broader effort to quickly increase New York’s hospital capacity from 53,000 beds to up to 140,000 beds. The federal government is already constructing a hospital at a Manhattan convention center and a Navy hospital ship is due to arrive Monday in New York City, a global hotspot of the outbreak.

“Were looking far and wide, very creative, aggressive and finding all the space that we can possibly find,” Cuomo said.

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SCHOOL CLOSURES

Schools in New York state will remain closed for another two weeks until April 15, Cuomo said.

The governor two weeks ago had ordered schools closed through April 1 as part of the state’s effort to slow the transmission of the outbreak. New York City schools are closed through April 20, though officials say the city closure could last the rest of the school year.

“I don’t do this joyfully, but I think that when you look at where we are, when you look at the number of cases still increasing, it only makes sense to keep the schools closed,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said they would reassess closures closer to April 15.

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TRUMP DOUBTS DEPTH OF CRISIS

New York City's Democratic mayor, Bill de Blasio, tangled with Trump again Friday after the Republican president expressed doubts about the depth of the crisis in the city's hospital system and its urgent need for more breathing machines.

“When the president says the state of New York doesn’t need 30,000 ventilators, with all due respect to him, he’s not looking at the facts of this astronomical growth of this crisis,” de Blasio said on ABC's “Good Morning America.”

Trump on Thursday told Fox's Sean Hannity, “I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”

The federal government has been sending ventilators to New York and more help is on the way, including a Navy hospital ship and temporary hospitals from the military and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“So we’ve gotten something. I’m thankful for that," the Democratic mayor said. “But it has to keep coming."

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PUBLIC SERVANTS FELLED BY VIRUS

The coronavirus outbreak is taking its toll on New York City's civil servants.

Two people who helped keep New York moving during the crisis, bus operator Oliver Cyrus, 61, and train conductor Peter Petrassi, 49, were killed by the virus Thursday, according to their union.

Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano called the two deaths in one day “a terrible and incredibly sad loss.”

He called transit workers “true heroes” for continuing to work during the pandemic and he demanded the Metropolitan Transportation Authority provide transportation workers with protective masks.

“Dedication and duty does not mean using transit workers as cannon fodder,” Utano said.

Fifty-year-old letter carrier Rakkhon Kim died Wednesday from COVID-19-related complications, according to the National Association of Letter Carriers. Kim had delivered mail for 23 years. He worked in the Bronx and lived in Northvale, New Jersey, according to the union.

The New York Police Department announced its first coronavirus death on Thursday. Dennis Dickson, a department janitor, died from complications of the disease, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.

Dickson worked for the department since 2006 and spent 17 straight days cleaning up police headquarters after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

The department, even as it has been tasked with helping police New York's social distancing rules, also continues to see a spike in absences. On Thursday, 3,674 officers called in sick, accounting for about 10% of the force. As of Thursday, 351 NYPD personnel had tested positive for the virus.

The department’s top counterterrorism official, Deputy Commissioner John Miller, was hospitalized Thursday, awaiting test results after experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.


(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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