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Temporary Army Corps hospital to be built at SUNY Old Westbury as coronavirus cases climb to 2,400 in Nassau, nearly 21,000 statewide

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Speaking Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the federal government to step in and set up four temporary U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hospitals — at SUNY Old Westbury, Stony Brook University and the Javits Center in New York City, as well as one in Westchester — in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus. 

 Hours later, President Trump promised to begin setting up the hospitals within 48 hours. 

 The growing need for patient beds, Cuomo said, could soon exceed hospital capacity. On Monday, the governor reported more than 2,400 cases in Nassau County and 20,000 statewide. 

Cuomo also called for four 250-bed Federal Emergency Management Agency hospitals at the Javits Center, to be fully funded by the federal government. Normally, the state would fund 25 percent of the cost of FEMA hospitals. The state, however, does not have the funding now to establish, supply and staff such hospitals, the governor said. The Army Corps hospitals would be supplied and staffed by the state.

Again, Trump promised to provide the hospitals, at no cost to the state.

Cuomo also called on the federal government to nationalize the acquisition of medical supplies. "The states simply cannot manage it," he said. Right now, he added, "states are savaging states.

With states competing against one another for supplies, prices are rapidly rising, Cuomo said. An 85-cent protective mask now goes for $7. A ventilator can cost $16,000 to $40,000. New York needs 30,000 ventilators, he said.

Trump, Cuomo said, should invoke the Defense Production Act, which would allow the federal government to order private companies to produce medical supplies, including protective equipment. "If I had the power, I would do in New York state," he said.

At press time, there was no word whether the president would invoke the act.