City asks state to turn Javits into medical “surge” facility

Council speaker suggests similar use for Madison Square Garden

Mar.March 18, 2020 12:00 PM
 A view of Javits Center (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

A view of Javits Center (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

The Javits Convention Center is being eyed as a Covid-19 triage center.

With illnesses from novel coronavirus expected to keep rising, New York City has asked the state for the green light to turn the 760,000-square-foot building into a “medical surge” facility, Politico reported. The request is part of the de Blasio administration’s efforts to secure space for thousands of treatment beds.

As of Tuesday night, the city’s emergency management agency was still waiting on a response. But in a New York Times op-ed Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo advocated retrofitting and equipping existing facilities into temporary treatment centers with the help of the Army Corps of Engineers.

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson supported the idea for Javits in a Tuesday radio interview and also suggested making Madison Square Garden another site where the sick can be treated.

Javits, on the West Side, is a state facility essentially controlled by Cuomo, while the Garden is owned by the Madison Square Garden Company. A ban on large gatherings has emptied major event venues statewide.

Council member Stephen Levin said the additional facilities are a necessity as the disease outbreak spreads in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio reported 923 cases of Covid-19 throughout the five boroughs Tuesday.

“If we don’t halt transmission within about a week, then we’re starting about 10 to 14 days after that, the hospital system will start to get overwhelmed, and it will start to get overwhelmed largely all at the same time and that’s the big issue,” Levin told Politico. “You’re going to start to see emergency departments run out of beds.” [Politico] — Erin Hudson

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