This afternoon Governor Andrew Cuomo called on President Donald Trump to convert dormitory buildings across the State University of New York into temporary intensive care facilities, in order to create additional capacity to treat respiratory illnesses that are expected to result from the aggressively circulating coronavirus.
“We are going to need thousands and thousands of additional hospital beds,” he said at a press conference this afternoon at the State Capitol. “We do not have the capacity.”
The State currently has 3,000 intensive care units across the state, about 600 of which are not currently in use. There are 63 individuals currently hospitalized in New York for coronavirus infections. Cuomo is worried that the State does not have enough respirators to hospitalize everyone who might need to be hospitalized, now that public health experts expect that the coronavirus will soon be widely circulating across the general population.
About 20% of those infected require hospitalization. If the virus circulates widely across the 20 million people who live in the State, a worst-case scenario would suggest that 4 million New Yorkers will be in need of a hospital bed — and a considerable portion of those hospitalized will need a respirator to fight the eventual pneumonia
In a letter sent yesterday, Cuomo is offering to make the State University’s dormitory facilities available for retrofitting by the Army Corps of Engineers. Cuomo was confident that the State can identify and staff the facilities with medical professionals but was worried that the construction of the facilities must be done by the federal government, noting the State’s grueling public procurement laws.
Cuomo is also worried that the State’s limited stockpile of respirators could become a national emergency, especially in a worst-case scenario.
It’s expected that the New York City area — where a large cluster of infections is growing — will require the most additional intensive care capacity. It’s increasingly likely that dormitories on the campus of SUNY Stoney Brook will be converted into medical facilities on a temporary basis. If the Army Corps of Engineers agrees, more campuses could soon follow.
The first sign of a coronavirus infection is a consistent dry cough for 4 to 5 days, which evolves into a fever, and then evolves into a more severe respiratory illness. In mild cases, individuals are able to overcome the infection in 2 to 3 weeks, but in severe cases, a patient could require hospitalization for six weeks.
Public health officials in China have been advising individuals who develop a dry cough to frequently gargle with an anti-septic, like Scope or Listerine, every two hours until the symptoms resolve. Some in the medical community there have observed that many patients who intensively gargle anti-septics are able to prevent the dry cough from evolving to a more serious respiratory illness in the lungs.