New York, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- The US Navy will send a hospital ship to New York City to increase the area’s capacity to treat patients with the coronavirus, with the state reporting more than 1,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.
The USNS Comfort has about 1,000 rooms and will dock in the New York harbor on the orders of President Donald Trump, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced after conversing by telephone with the president.
In addition, Cuomo said that he will approve an executive order that will obligate all companies to have at least half their employees work from home, with exceptions for essential businesses like pharmacies and supermarkets, among others.
The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus, which causes the sometimes fatal Covid-19 pneumonia, now stands at 2,383, 1,008 more than one day ago, with most of them (1,339) being concentrated in New York City, where there were 695 newly positive tests in the past 24 hours.
Cuomo attributed the sharp increase in known cases, in part, to the increase in the number of tests that are being performed and/or analyzed after several laboratories received authorization to undertake them, thus cutting into the backlog of tests from the past few days that have not yet been processed, as well as doing a large number of new tests.
To date, 20 people have died in New York from Covid-19, while 108 have completely recovered from the disease, the governor said.
The priority for authorities right now is to increase the number of hospital beds, especially in intensive care units, to be able to deal with the expected flood of new seriously ill patients over the coming weeks.
In keeping with that effort, the president ordered the USNS Comfort deployed to New York City – a ship that Cuomo called a “floating hospital” and which has been used in the past in assorted emergencies such as the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and in assorted situations in several Latin American countries.
Cuomo – a Democrat – praised the cooperation New York has received from Trump in recent hours, although the governor had initially criticized the president for his slow reaction to the coronavirus.
In all, New York state currently has about 53,000 hospital beds, 3,000 of them in ICUs, and those numbers are considered to be woefully inadequate for dealing with the wave of sick people expected when the peak of the coronavirus infection in the zone comes, a point that authorities project will occur in about 45 days.
New York state, under Cuomo’s direction, has already taken steps to limit the spread of the coronavirus, including closing theaters, bars and restaurants, and ordering companies to have half their employees telecommute or work from home, but he has rejected the idea of confining people to their homes, a measure put forward as a possible short-term move by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, also a Democrat. EFE-EPA