Red Hook

Cuomo: 1,000-bed coronavirus hospital coming to Brooklyn Cruise Terminal

The Marriott Brooklyn Bridge Hotel and the Brooklyn Center Nursing Home are also being considered

March 27, 2020 Mary Frost
The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal has been chosen as the site for a temporary coronavirus field hospital by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Shown: The Queen Mary 2 docked at the Cruise Terminal. File photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that the federal government will build four additional temporary hospitals in New York City, one in each borough, to handle the novel coronavirus pandemic. The chosen sites, which would each be equipped with a thousand beds, include the 182,000-square-foot Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.

The Cruise Terminal, where such notable ships as Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 dock when in port, encompasses a total of 200,000 square feet of flexible terminal space with separate bus stalls and parking.

Other sites include the New York Expo Center in the Bronx, the Queens Aqueduct and the College of Staten Island.

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Cuomo said that experts expect the crisis to reach its apex in New York, especially in New York City, within 21 days. The push to build new hospital space comes as the city has become the nation’s coronavirus epicenter, with 44,635 testing positive for the virus, 6,481 hospitalized and 1,583 in ICUs. As of Friday morning, 519 New Yorkers have died, 366 in New York City.

President Donald Trump still has to approve the emergency construction, which would be carried out by the Army Corp of Engineers with FEMA and the National Guard. The governor made the announcement Friday from the Javits Center in Manhattan, which, within a week, has been converted to a 1,000-bed hospital.

Gov. andrew Cuomo presented this slide during Friday’s coronavirus conference at the Javits Center. Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office
Gov. andrew Cuomo presented this slide during Friday’s coronavirus conference at the Javits Center. Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office

In addition, Cuomo said that the state is looking at the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge Hotel and the Brooklyn Center Nursing Home as additional possible backup hospital facilities.

The city’s hospitals are reaching capacity, Cuomo said. “That’s what we’ve been saying, that’s what we’ve been planning for and that’s why we’re here.”

Cuomo said that New York will need 140,000 hospital beds, but currently has only 53,000, not counting the new beds at Javits. The state has ordered hospitals to attempt to double their capacity. Crucially, Cuomo said that the state will need 40,000 ICU beds equipped with ventilators. The state currently has only about 3,000 ICU beds.


In picking sites “you need a large open space with power, HVAC, a staging area” and other requirements, Cuomo said. “We looked at ten sites, got them down to a shortlist, went with the Army Corp of Engineers, and we came up to these four. I’m going to send these to the president for approval. That’s four thousand from the federal government, for temporary hospital beds.”

When asked about President Trump’s statement that he doubted that New York really needed 30-40,000 ICU beds and that the risk of COVID-19 was overblown, Cuomo replied, “I don’t operate on opinions, I make the decisions based on the data and the science. I hope we don’t need the ventilators. I hope some ‘weather change’ comes and kills the virus overnight. But that’s just my opinion, and I have to operate on facts.”

Cuomo thanked the National Guard members at Javits, who have labored all week to construct the temporary site.

“You are living a moment in history. This is a moment they are going to write about and talk about for generations … This is a moment that will change character. And ten years from now you’ll be talking about today with your children and grandchildren, and you will shed a tear when you remember the ones lost … But you will also be proud of what you did. You’ll be proud that you showed up when other people played it safe,” Cuomo said.

He added, “I say we go out there today and we kick coronavirus’ ass!”


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