President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, takes questions from reporters during a coronavirus (COVID-19) press briefing Friday, March 20, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Washington, New York declared major disasters in coronavirus pandemic, military moves into cities

Military converts convention centers, university dorms and sports stadiums into emergency hubs for expected spike in coronavirus cases.

This weekend, US President Donald Trump made federal funding available to New York and Washington to boost each state’s measures to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

In the state of Washington, where the first reported case of coronavirus outside of China occurred, as of Sunday reports, 95 deaths and 1,996 confirmed cases. Already, the state has ordered all bars and restaurants to close, reduced the size of public gatherings, and mandated only essential businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies to remain open. Now, the National Guard moves in.

In New York, there are 114 deaths and 15,168 documented infections. Surpassing Washington, the state, and in particular, New York City, is considered the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus pandemic. Over the weekend, the military began to repurpose the Jacob K. Javits Center, a popular convention center, as well as SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Westbury, and Westchester County Center concert venue as hospital sites. The dormitories at the universities will be used to house medical and military staff.

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) assessed the health crisis in the state as “critical.” Currently, there is a cluster of infections in Long Island, and growing infections in New York City. In a press conference, Cuomo stressed the need for more medical supplies. “I think the federal government should order factories to manufacture masks, gowns, ventilators, the essential medical equipment that is going to make a difference between life and death,” said Cuomo.

The expected amount of hospital beds needed in New York within the next 45 days is 55,000 to 110,000 before they see the infection rates flatten. The bigger unanswered question is how will that many people be tested if there are limited numbers of testing kits?

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