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New York City will be asking America’s taxpayers to foot the bill for a $20.8 million emergency field hospital built to serve coronavirus patients that has closed without ever serving a single person.
In March, officials in hard-hit communities around the country said local hospital capacity was insufficient. However, as the structures went up, predictions about the numbers of hospital beds that would be needed did not, in many cases, come to pass.
The New York City hospital that was never used was part of a plan announced March 31 by Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, according to The City.
The plan called for two hospitals — a 670-bed facility at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook and a 350-bed facility at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens.
The Red Hook facility was supposed to be ready in April, but never opened until May.
At that point, the number of new admissions had fallen to a range that New York City’s hospitals could handle.
The tennis center facility, which cost $19.8 million, wound up serving 79 patients.
The city will pass the bill to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the more than $40 million spent on the facilities.
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“As part of our hospital surge, we expanded capacity at a breakneck speed, ensuring our hospital infrastructure would be prepared to handle the very worst. We did so only with a single-minded focus: saving lives,” City Hall spokesman Avery Cohen told The City.
“Over the past few months, social distancing, face coverings, and other precautionary measures have flattened the curve drastically, and we remain squarely focused on taking that progress even further,” Cohen said.
On April 1, de Blasio said New York City might need up to 65,000 hospital beds by May 1.
The Red Hook hospital was built by SLSCO, a Texas-based company, under a no-bid emergency contract.
The facilities being closed come in addition to field hospitals in the New York City area that had been sought by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo but largely went unused, according to The Associated Press.
The lack of use of what had been demanded drew the attention of President Donald Trump, who jabbed Cuomo in an April tweet.
Governor Cuomo should spend more time “doing” and less time “complaining”. Get out there and get the job done. Stop talking! We built you thousands of hospital beds that you didn’t need or use, gave large numbers of Ventilators that you should have had, and helped you with….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2020
Collectively, the Army Corps of Engineers spent more than $350 million on field hospitals in the NYC area, which included $136 million to build a temporary hospital at the State University of New York campus at Stony Brook and $116.5 million to build one on SUNY’s Old Westbury campus. At least $100 million was also doled out for facilities at a horse racing track and a city park.
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