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N.Y. mandating hospitals increase number of beds by at least 50%

Each hospital across the state will be required to increase the number of beds in its facility by 50% and should attempt to double its capacity, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Sunday.

As Covid-19 continues to spread, the state is projected to need 110,000 hospital beds, but the current capacity sits at 53,000, the governor said.

New York has 15,168 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 13% of the cases resulting in hospitalization, Cuomo said. As of Saturday morning, the state had 10,356 cases.

"The numbers are still going up," he said.

The state Department of Health will be issuing an emergency order and waiving regulations that limit the number of beds based on the amount of physical space in a facility, Cuomo said.

The goal of reaching a 100% increase may be impossible for some hospitals, but the 50% increase will be mandated, he said.

"We have to expand the existing hospital capacity," Cuomo said during a news conference in Albany.

Kaleida Health announced Saturday that, as part of the state's request that hospitals update "surge" panedmic plans, it is considering reopening DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda and may add more intensive care beds at all of its sites.

Last week, Catholic Health said it was turning the St. Joseph Campus of Sisters of Charity Hospital into the state's first Covid-19 hospital. The emergency department at the campus closed indefinitely Saturday night. Emergency departments at other Catholic Health hospitals remain open.

The state is also ordering hospitals to cancel all elective, non-critical surgeries. That move is expected to free up 25 to 30% more beds, Cuomo said.

In addition to the mandates and requests to hospitals, additional beds are being created by repurposing existing residential facilities.

Cuomo said he is asking the Army Corps of Engineers to set up temporary hospitals at four sites in Westchester County, Manhattan and on Long Island.

Cuomo on Sunday also called on the federal government to compel private businesses to produce medical supplies.

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