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New York City landmarks convert to hospitals amid coronavirus pandemic

"We're going to use every place we need to use to help people," Mayor Bill de Blasio has said.
Samaritan's Purse's field hospital in New York's Central Park on Monday, March 30, 2020.
Samaritan's Purse's field hospital in New York's Central Park on Monday, March 30, 2020.Shahrzad Elghanayan / NBC News

A field hospital built in Central Park for coronavirus patients is expected to open Wednesday, one of at least three temporary medical facilities planned for New York City landmarks amid the pandemic.

The 14-tent, 68-bed hospital in Central Park, near Mount Sinai Hospital, will include a makeshift intensive care unit with 10 beds, each with its own ventilator.

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The Central Park hospital will be staffed by 60 to 70 medical professionals from Samaritan's Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian humanitarian organization. The organization's president is Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham.

Mayor Bill de Blasio signaled that such temporary hospitals would become more common.

"We're going to use every place we need to use to help people," de Blasio told reporters Sunday. "This is the kind of thing you will see now as this crisis develops."

Another well-known site, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which hosts the U.S. Open, will be converted into a 350-bed temporary hospital, with work on the project to start Tuesday, Chris Widmaier, spokesman for the U.S. Tennis Association, said Monday.

De Blasio held a news conference Tuesday at the tennis center, which he said should symbolize hope and signal that the "crisis will not go on forever."

"I'm looking forward to the day when this is going to be a place for tennis again," de Blasio said. "But in the meantime, I'm inspired by the fact that people are stepping up."

The Javits Convention Center has also been converted into a 2,500-bed emergency facility to provide relief to the city's overwhelmed hospitals, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. It received its first few patients Monday.

"Javits Center's done many magnificent exhibitions and transformations, and they never cease to amaze me, but this is a transformation that I don't think anyone could ever anticipate," Cuomo said Monday.

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In addition, the Comfort, a Navy hospital ship, docked in Manhattan on Monday morning. The 1,000-bed ship will treat patients who are not infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, to free up much-needed hospital space for infected patients in the city.

"We knew from the outset that expanded hospital capacity was critical," Cuomo tweeted Monday. "We asked and the federal government answered."