NEW YORK (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking 4,000 more temporary hospitals beds across New York City and ordered schools closed statewide for two more weeks. President Donald Trump and elected leaders in New York are clashing again over the depth of the state’s coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, the outbreak is taking its toll on the state’s civil servants.
Here are the latest coronavirus developments in New York:
Bracing for worse
Cuomo sought to add another 4,000 temporary hospitals beds across New York City and ordered schools closed statewide for two more weeks on Friday, warning of hard days ahead in the coronavirus outbreak.
“This is going to be weeks and weeks and weeks,” Cuomo told National Guard members working at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. “This is going to be a long day, and it’s going to be a hard day, and it’s going to be an ugly day, and it’s going to be a sad day.”
A new temporary hospital at the Javits Center is part of the state’s plan to quickly bring hospital capacity up from 53,000 beds to 140,000 beds. More temporary hospitals are planned in the suburbs and a Navy hospital ship is due to arrive Monday in New York City, a global hotspot of the outbreak.
There are already more than 6,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in New York, with almost 1,600 in intensive care. The state has logged a nation-high of 519 deaths, and has more than 44,000 confirmed cases.
Fearful of still falling short of hospital beds if the outbreak peaks sharply in April, Cuomo is seeking authorization from the Trump administration to add 4,000 beds spread among the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The hospitals would be constructed at a horse track complex, a city college, an expo center and a cruise ship terminal.
“Were looking far and wide, very creative, aggressive and finding all the space that we can possibly find,” Cuomo said.
The governor also ordered schools in New York state to remain closed for another two weeks until April 15. Cuomo two weeks ago had ordered schools closed through April 1 as part of the state’s effort to slow the transmission of the outbreak.
New York City schools are closed through April 20, though officials say the city closure could last the rest of the school year.
“I don’t do this joyfully, but I think that when you look at where we are, when you look at the number of cases still increasing, it only makes sense to keep the schools closed,” said Cuomo, who added he would reassess closures closer to April 15.
New York’s National Guard has helped provide logistical support at the Javits Center while also helping with food packaging and distribution and support for local law enforcement at New York City transportation hubs.
“You are living a moment in history. This is going to be one the moments they write about and talk about for generations,” he told guard members. “So I say, my friends, that we go out there today and we kick coronavirus’s ass.”
Trump doubts depth of crisis
New York City’s Democratic mayor, Bill de Blasio, tangled with Trump again Friday after the Republican president expressed doubts about the depth of the crisis in the city’s hospital system and its urgent need for more breathing machines.
“When the president says the state of New York doesn’t need 30,000 ventilators, with all due respect to him, he’s not looking at the facts of this astronomical growth of this crisis,” de Blasio said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Trump on Thursday told Fox’s Sean Hannity, “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”
The mayor said he was thankful that the federal government has been sending ventilators to New York.
Cuomo reiterated Friday that the need for ventilators could be as high as 30,000.
“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Cuomo said. “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. But I don’t operate here on opinion. I operate on facts, and data, and numbers, and projections.” ___
Nonessential construction halted
Construction workers were exempt from Cuomo’s order last week requiring employees in most businesses to stay home, but that’s ending. De Blasio said Friday that he and Cuomo agreed all nonessential construction will be halted to help curb the spread of the virus.
“So, luxury condos will not be built until this is over, you know, office buildings are not going to be built so that work’s going to end immediately,” de Blasio said on the radio station WNYC. “We need to protect people.”
Under guidelines issued Friday by New York state’s economic development agency, all construction must shut down except emergency construction and essential projects such as roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities and hospitals.
Public servants felled by virus
The coronavirus outbreak is taking its toll on New York City’s civil servants.
Two people who helped keep New York moving during the crisis, bus operator Oliver Cyrus, 61, and train conductor Peter Petrassi, 49, were killed by the virus Thursday, according to their union.
Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano called the two deaths in one day “a terrible and incredibly sad loss.”
He called transit workers “true heroes” for continuing to work during the pandemic and he demanded the Metropolitan Transportation Authority provide transportation workers with protective masks.
“Dedication and duty does not mean using transit workers as cannon fodder,” Utano said.
Fifty-year-old letter carrier Rakkhon Kim died Wednesday from COVID-19-related complications, according to the National Association of Letter Carriers. Kim had delivered mail for 23 years. He worked in the Bronx and lived in Northvale, New Jersey, according to the union.
The New York Police Department announced its first coronavirus death on Thursday. Dennis Dickson, a department janitor, died from complications of the disease, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
Dickson worked for the department since 2006 and spent 17 straight days cleaning up police headquarters after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
The department, even as it has been tasked with helping police New York’s social distancing rules, also continues to see a spike in absences. On Thursday, 3,674 officers called in sick, accounting for about 10% of the force. As of Thursday, 351 NYPD personnel had tested positive for the virus.
The department’s top counterterrorism official, Deputy Commissioner John Miller, was hospitalized Thursday, awaiting test results after experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Associated Press writer Marina Villeneuve contributed from Albany, N.Y.