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Army to Deploy After President Trump Declares New York a Major Disaster Area

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Published on: March 21, 2020

The US military is now working on plans to takeover hotels, college dormitories, sports arenas and turn them into ICU-like medical facilities.


  • President Trump declared New York State a major disaster area Friday as coronavirus cases skyrocket
  • The declaration allows New York State to access federal aid via FEMA’s $42billion Disaster Relief Fund
  • The US military is now working on plans to takeover hotels, college dormitories and sports arenas and turn them into ICU-like medical facilities 
  • The emergency declaration comes as New York State and city hospitals run out of face masks and ventilators 
  • In New York City, 14 people died between 10am and 6pm Friday – the equivalent of almost two people an hour
  • Trump’s declaration was issued Friday night, four days after New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo asked for it
  • This is the first time in US history a president has declared a major disaster over a public health threat  
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

The US military will now be called in, and the US Army Corps of Engineers have said they plans to take over hotels, sports arenas, college dorms and other buildings in a bid to bolster the number of available hospital rooms.

De Blasio had urged Trump to send in the military and its logistical support to hard-hit New York State, California and Seattle on Wednesday. On Friday de Blasio said: ‘We constitute 30 percent of the cases in the US and 70 per cent of the cases in New York State. Whether we like it or not, we are the epicenter.’

The president’s declaration comes as a hospital in the Bronx revealed it is running low on ventilators and a Queens doctor revealed that an elderly patient experiencing coronavirus symptoms died on the hospital ward floor.

On Friday, patients were seen lining up around the block at test centers in New York City as they tried to get tested for the disease. One video showed hundreds lining up waiting to be tested at Queens’ Elmhurst Hospital.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo had asked for the major disaster declaration, which paves the way for the federal government to pay for up to 75 per cent of the state’s bills for its emergency response to the pandemic.

New York State now has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nation, with 8,515 diagnoses and 56 deaths, as the number of confirmed cases shot up by more than 2,000 between Thursday and Friday. The sudden leap in cases has been attributed to more people now being tested for the disease.

De Blasio said during a press conference Friday that there are 5,151 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the nation’s largest city – more than a fourth of the nation’s total cases. The number later rose to 5,683.

In New York City between the hours of 10am and 6pm on Friday, 14 people died from coronavirus, meaning almost two people an hour died, as the total number of deaths in NYC reached 43 people.

The National Institutes of Health Friday warned that up to 70,000 Americans could be confirmed as having coronavirus by the end of next week in ‘dramatic increase’ of cases, up from the current tally of more than 19,600 confirmed cases.

The emergency declaration issued Friday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides access to $42billion in aid from the Disaster Relief Fund, the New York Post reported.

FEMA will now be able to send personnel and resources to the state, as well as set up mobile coronavirus testing centers, disinfect public facilities and provide in-demand medical supplies including face masks, gloves and surgical gowns.

The declaration also allows the US military to make further assistance plans.

Pentagon officials said Friday that the US Army Corps of Engineers is preparing plans to take over as many as 10,000 hotel rooms, college dorms and other building spaces in New York State to help provide medical services and accommodate virus-related hospitalizations, according to the WSJ.

When requested by state officials and FEMA, the Corps of Engineers would make contracts with hotels, college and potential sports arenas as the first step in turning them into ICU-like medical facilities.

The military had previously said that it will be making two hospital ships and more than five million face masks, coronavirus test kits and ventilators available to regions that are most in need.

Ventilators are in huge demand across New York State.

At the Bronx’s Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, a doctor told the New York Times that they only had a few ventilators left for coronavirus patients who needed them to breathe.


New York State confirmed cases: 8,515

New York State deaths: 56

New York City confirmed cases: 5,683

New York City deaths: 43

US total confirmed cases: 19,762

US total deaths: 273


Meanwhile, New York-Presbyterian Queens doctor Saquib Rahim told the WSJ that an elderly patient with COVID-19 symptoms died on the floor of the hospital ward, as the number of both potential and confirmed cases multiplied over the week.

A memo sent to nurses on Thursday stated that ‘Beds are needed desperately’ and asked them to ‘ACTIVELY participate in the Discharge planning for your patients.’

‘We’ve never seen anything like this,’ Dr. Rahim told the WSJ.

Face masks are also in short supply.

Doctors at Brooklyn’s Kings County Hospital Center said that they were resorting to coating their masks – which were being reused for up to a week – in hand sanitizer between shifts, according to the New York Times.

Earlier in the week, an intensive care nurse at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, said nurses are being asked to re-use masks if they have only been with patients a short time – raising their risk of infection, because supplies were running so low.

‘We don’t want to reuse a mask that we’re going to touch with our hands, our bare hands, and then go and put it back on our face when it could have the COVID virus on it,’ nurse Michelle Gonzalez told CBS 2.

‘We find it important that we don’t reutilize these masks so that we don’t put the rest of our community and our fellow co-workers at risk.’

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