New York’s death toll nears 1,000 as ventilators and a Central Park field hospital are expected this week
(CNN) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for “all hands on deck” in the state experiencing the worst of the coronavirus pandemic in the US has turned out more medical staff, a surge in medical supplies and a hospital in Central Park expected to be operational Tuesday.
A temporary hospital being set up at New York City’s Javits Convention Center is also expected to be operational this week.
There are more than 59,000 cases of coronavirus in the state and at least 965 deaths.
New York officials have pleaded for more supplies for medical staff to continue to treat the growing patient population, and now the city has received all of the 2,500 ventilators promised by the federal government.
They are distributing the ventilators along with personal protective equipment including 8,918,000 face masks, 179,328 face shields, 1,570,300 surgical gloves and 476, 565 N95 masks.
“There is not enough of anything,” an attending physician in the anesthesiology department of a Long Island hospital told CNN. “There are just so many patients who are so sick it seems impossible to keep up with the demand.”
For medical professionals on the front lines, many of whom are reusing single-use equipment, the supplies are the best line of defense against contracting the virus themselves, spreading it to patients and being unable to continue providing care.
Staff moved and a hospital in Central Park
In addition to supplies, patients in New York need more hospital beds and more staff to treat them.
A 68-bed field hospital is being constructed in Central Park to treat coronavirus patients, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday.
The Central Park Conservancy is also working with Mt. Sinai Hospital and Samaritan’s Purse to build the hospital, which is expected to be operational Tuesday, de Blasio said.
NYC’s Emergency Rooms are serving twice as many patients as usual and their ICUs are three times as large as usual, Dr. Mitchell Katz, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals said Sunday.
In response, 500 contract nurses were added to the NYC Health + Hospitals system this week and another 500 are expected next week, Mayor de Blasio said Sunday.
And Queen’s Elmhurst Hospital, which de Blasio said is among the hardest hit in the city, has received 169 clinicians to help in its fight against the virus.
The city will continue to move personnel to help every hospital that needs it during this pandemic, de Blasio said.
Enforcing social distancing
In New York City, social distancing has gone from a moral responsibility to a legal requirement, as de Blasio announced Sunday that residents who violate policies will receive a summons and fines ranging from $250 to $500.
People will be fined if they are told by officers to disperse, keep moving, or maintain distance, but they continue to violate policies anyway.
“If you ignore that order … we’re going to have to fine you. We’re going to give people every chance to listen and if anyone doesn’t listen, then they deserve a fine at this point,” de Blasio said.
Beginning Monday, the New York Police Department will conduct spot checks on subway cars to ensure social distancing.
Team sports are banned in the city. Tennis courts and soccer fields where people continue to gather will have their nets taken down, and 80 basketball hoops have already been removed.
NYPD commissioner expects nearly 900 positive tests in department
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a news conference Sunday that he anticipates that by Monday morning, there will be close to 900 NYPD members testing positive for coronavirus.
As of Sunday, 730 NYPD officers and 96 civilian employees have tested positive, a law enforcement official said.
Of those 826 total employees infected, 29 are hospitalized, and one is in critical condition, the official said.
Three members of the department have died of the virus.
The NYPD advises members with underlying conditions who want special accommodations to seek permission to work from home, the official said. The department is advising pregnant staff members to do the same.
On Saturday, the department announced its first death of a detective due to coronavirus
Detective Cedric Dixon, a 23-year veteran, worked in the 32nd Precinct in Harlem, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
The detective was in his 40s and had underlying health conditions, multiple law enforcement officials said. Shea did not provide details on the officer’s health history.
On Friday, Giacomina Barr-Brown, a civilian worked in the 49th Precinct Roll Call Office, also died from coronavirus.
Barr-Brown was a seven-year veteran of the NYPD.
And on Thursday, Dennis C. Dickson, a custodian who worked at police headquarters, became the first member of the NYPD to lose his life to coronavirus.
The police chief lauded Dickson’s commitment to the department, noting the 14-year veteran “worked 17 days straight” during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“May we never forget the sacrifice of those workers who put themselves in harm’s way to keep you and your family safe,” Shea said.
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