Pentagon Will Accept Virus Patients at Javits Center in New York

The Defense Department will accept coronavirus patients at convention center medical facilities that the military helped provide in Manhattan, New Orleans and Dallas under a change of policy aimed at relieving the burden on overwhelmed local hospitals.

The three locations “will now provide support to COVID-19 positive patients in convalescent care, as well as low-acuity patients. “These patients, who require a lower level of medical care, must first be screened at a local hospital,” the department said in a statement Friday.

The change in policy came after a request from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to expand use of the Javits Convention Center, which originally was to take only patients with medical needs other than the virus.

“I asked President Trump this morning to consider the request and the urgency of the matter, and the president has just informed me that he granted New York’s request,” Cuomo said in a statement early in the day. “I thank the president for his cooperation in this pressing matter and his expeditious decision making.”

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Hospital Ship

Also, the Pentagon eased restrictions on patients who can be treated on the USNS Comfort after complaints that only a handful had been allowed on to the hospital ship docked in New York City.

Patients will now be screened for coronavirus symptoms pier-side, according to the Pentagon statement. “The screening effort for the USNS Comfort will no longer require a negative test, but each patient will still be screened by temperature and a short questionnaire,” it said.

The Navy ship, which docked in New York on Monday, was assigned to add 1,000 beds to the city’s capacity.

The arrival of the Navy ship, which was last in New York City during the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is part of a massive effort involving the public and private sector to quickly reshape the health care system. That effort is enlisting several New York landmarks. In addition to the sprawling Javits center, Central Park was chosen as the site of a 68-bed field hospital deployed by Samaritan’s Purse, a charity.

— With assistance by Kim Chipman

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