New York State is working around the clock to expand hospital capacity and acquire life-saving medical equipment as we continue to test tens of thousands of New Yorkers for the novel coronavirus. Right now we are facing a generation-defining challenge. But America is America because of our ability to overcome adversity and challenges. I believe that to the bottom of my soul. We will overcome this and we will get through this and we will come out even stronger.
Here's what else you need to know tonight:
1. I am calling on the federal government to implement the Defense Production Act to direct companies to produce medical supplies like ventilators and masks. New York State is scouring the globe for these supplies, but we need more than we can find. Currently, states are competing with other states, hospitals with other hospitals, and there is significant price gouging. The federal government must nationalize the contracting and acquisition of medical supplies.
2. Non-essential businesses are closed (in-person operations) as of 8pm tonight. Essential businesses like pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations and more will stay open. Unsure what counts as an essential business? See the full list here.
3. I accepted the Army Corps of Engineers' recommendations for the temporary hospital sites in NYS and we are ready for construction to start as soon as tomorrow. Hospitals at our SUNY campuses will be built indoors with outdoor tent support and on-site health care staff will stay at the dormitories. FEMA will erect an additional four federal hospital facilities. Each FEMA facility will have 250 beds and come fully equipped and fully staffed by the federal government.
4. We are taking action to maximize existing hospital capacity. I am requiring all hospitals statewide to develop plans that expand their capacity by at least 50% with the goal of expanding capacity by 100%. (State regulations affecting capacity have been temporarily waived.) The state also leased a nursing home facility in Brooklyn to convert to a 600-bed hospital. Finally, all elective, non-critical surgeries are cancelled, effective Wednesday, March 25, which will free up around a quarter of existing hospital beds.
5. Drug therapy trials will start Tuesday. The state has acquired 70,000 doses of Hydroxychloroquine, 10,000 doses of Zithromax and 750,000 doses of Chloroquine. Trials will start on Tuesday.
Tonight's "Deep Breath Moment": Danny DeVito, Ben Stiller and other New Yorkers are helping amplify the message of urging New Yorkers to stay at home to stop the spread of this virus and save lives. See them here. I thank them for their help!