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Jones testing going smoothly; army to provide hospital beds

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Testing appeared to be proceeding smoothly a week after Gov. Andrew Cuomo made good on his pledge to open a drive-through facility for the COVID-19 virus at Jones Beach. The facility, which opened last Tuesday at the west end of the park, is one of four testing facilities the state Department of Health has opened. The other three are in Suffolk County, Rockland County and on Staten Island.

Speaking at a news conference last week, Cuomo described the Jones Beach facility as “drive through,” although residents must still call for appointments before testing. Those who believe they may have symptoms of the virus should call the COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065 to arrange for a test.

The multi-lane test site, which is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., has the capacity to run about 200-250 tests per day. Results are generally available within 48 hours.

In announcing the opening of new test sites, Cuomo pointed to other challenges facing the sate, including, most seriously, the lack of hospital beds.

The state has a total of about 53,000 hospital beds, including about 3,000 beds in intensive care facilities, according to Cuomo. But Department of Health projections drawn from the experiences of other countries suggest that the state will need at least 110,000 beds, including as many as 37,000 ICU beds, he said.

Mt. Sinai South Nassau Hospital, serving the county’s south coast, has a capacity of 455 beds at its main Oceanside facility and operates two additional facilities in Long Beach and Wantagh.

Speaking Sunday, 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.

In addition, Cuomo 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."