The city has announced that the New York Expo Center on the Hunts Point waterfront will be converted into an emergency medical facility, with 4,000 beds. The smokestack harks back to the venue's former incarnation as a fertilizer company.

Hunts Point waterfront venue to become temporary hospital

As the city’s conventional medical facilities continue to treat the increasing number of Covid-19 patients, a massive events venue on Hunts Point’s industrial waterfront will have its dance floor replaced by hospital beds.

The New York Expo Center, which is located next to Barretto Point Park, will be transformed into an emergency medical facility to help manage the torrent of patients caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. The move is the latest effort by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to adapt the state and city to the crisis as deaths from the virus continue to climb.

Cuomo has said 140,000 beds will be needed in a worst-case scenario, what he refers to as “the apex,” which he said could come sometime next month. With the state currently at 53,000 beds, the governor’s plan includes having hospitals increase their capacity by anywhere from 50-100%, and converting existing sites to temporary hospitals.

The 90,000-square-foot venue on Oak Point Avenue is one of four new large-scale medical facilities that will provide a combined 4,000 additional beds. These sites will join the Javits Center in Manhattan to provide emergency locations for medical treatment in each of the five boroughs.

Cuomo toured the sites on Friday and received federal approval for the sites Saturday.

“Every borough knows that they have a facility and they’re getting the same treatment that everyone else is getting,” said Cuomo in his daily press conference on Saturday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers transformed the Javits Center in a week to a 1,000-bed field hospital. The governor said he was happy with Manhattan-based site’s transformation and will use it as a template in for the new sites in each of the boroughs.

“We will do what we’ve done here since we know it works,” he said.

Travis Scott concert at New York Expo Center.
Travis Scott performs at the New York Expo Center which will become a temporary hospital during the Covid-19 crisis. soucre: newyorkexpocenter.com

Cuomo said the sites were selected and built based on priorities that included providing the great number of beds in the shortest amount of time, and where they are most needed.

While the Javits Center will be operational beginning this week, Cuomo said that it and the four new sites won’t be accepting patients yet. The beds these sites provide are in preparation for the possible apex and will be used when necessary.

The Hunts Point venue served as a fertilizer plant between 1994 and 2011 when the state withdrew its funding, forcing it to close. A developer bought and reopened the 10 acre space as an events center in 2017.

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