‘In an opinion piece published Sunday by the New York Times, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is presently presiding over the second-largest outbreak in the US, asked President Trump to mobilize the Army Corp of Engineers to help expand hospital capacity to fight the outbreak.
Cuomo cited one projection claiming that as many as 214 million people in our country could be infected over the course of the epidemic, and 21 million could require hospitalization, far outnumbering the ~914,000 hospital beds available in the US, which only has about 2.8 beds per 1,000 people on average across the county.
Since states don’t have the power to take decisive action, he asked the president to mobilize the Army Corp of Engineers to start retrofitting existing buildings like military bases or old college dorms into hospitals/quarantine centers, kind of like China did with the 14 improvised centers in Wuhan, not to mention the 2 hospitals they built from scratch during the early days of the outbreak.
Using the corp of engineers in this way wouldn’t violate federal law, Cuomo said, and it’s the best hope to help prevent unnecessary deaths.
Unsurprisingly, the editorial contained many backhanded criticisms of the administration’s response to the crisis.
Here’s the key excerpt:
States cannot build more hospitals, acquire ventilators or modify facilities quickly enough. At this point, our best hope is to utilize the Army Corps of Engineers to leverage its expertise, equipment and people power to retrofit and equip existing facilities — like military bases or college dormitories — to serve as temporary medical centers. Then we can designate existing hospital beds for the acutely ill.
We believe the use of active duty Army Corps personnel would not violate federal law because this is a national disaster. Doing so still won’t provide enough intensive care beds, but it is our best hope.
In short: Localize testing, federalize shutdowns and task the Army Corps of Engineers to expand hospital capacity.’