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New York to reopen emergency COVID-19 field hospital on Staten Island

With the coronavirus spiking on Staten Island, the state will reopen an emergency COVID-19 field hospital to help overburdened medical facilities there as the southern part of the borough was designated an “orange zone,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

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“Staten Island is a problem. The number of hospitalizations in Staten Island have gone, over the last three weeks, they basically tripled,” Cuomo said during a press briefing at his Midtown office.

Remember when we had to set up field hospitals, emergency hospitals for additional capacity — well, that’s what we have to do on Staten Island.”

The COVID-19 hospitalization rate on Staten Island has increased from 33 patients on Nov. 2 to 91 patients on Sunday, state data shows.

“Staten Island has such an issue that it has triggered a hospital capacity issue,” said Cuomo. “And the hospitals have contacted us and they say they need emergency beds on Staten Island.”

That call has prompted the state to reopen an emergency COVID-19 hospital facility with a 100-bed capacity at the borough’s South Beach Psychiatric Center, Cuomo said.

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During the height of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring, the field hospital at that site was two floors and treated a total of 200 people, according to the state.

Additionally, southern Staten Island — including Tottenville, Bay Terrace, Pleasant Plains, Great Kills and Annadale — will turn into a medium-risk “orange zone” with more coronavirus restrictions as the rest of the borough will become a lesser-risk “yellow zone,” Cuomo said.

Restrictions in orange zones include 33 percent capacity limits at houses of worship, mass gatherings of 10 people maximum both indoors and outdoors, the closure of high-risk non-essential businesses like gyms and hair salons, outdoor dining only with a four-person maximum per table, and the closure of schools.

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio closed all New York City public schools indefinitely as a result of increasing infection rates.

In yellow zones, the restrictions include 50 percent capacity limits at houses of worship, maximum gatherings of 25 people outdoors and a four-person maximum per table for both indoor and outdoor dining. Schools can remain open in yellow zones, but with the mandatory weekly testing of students and staff.

Upper Manhattan, specifically in the Washington Heights area, will also move into a yellow zone, Cuomo said.

Restrictions on business in orange and yellow zones will take effect Wednesday, while the restrictions on schools in those zones will go into effect Thursday.

Both Cuomo and de Blasio have sounded the alarm that all of New York City is soon headed for an orange zone designation as coronavirus infection rates continue to increase.

COVID-19 hospitalizations across the Empire State have skyrocketed by 122 percent over the last three weeks from 1,227 patients to 2,724 patients, said Cuomo, who warned that at that rate New York could see more than 6,000 hospitalizations in three weeks.

“If [gatherings from] Thanksgiving did nothing, if the Christmas season did nothing, if we don’t bring down the current rate, we go to 6,000 [hospitalizations],” Cuomo said.

The governor called the 37 days between Thanksgiving and Jan. 2, which include Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, “the highest socialization” period of the year and a “bad combination” mixed with the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a toxic cocktail of dynamics and facts,” he said.

Meanwhile, the daily statewide coronavirus positivity rate was at 3.08 percent, according to the latest state data.

ICU admissions have risen over the last 24 hours by 43, bringing the new total to 545, the data shows.

A total of 33 New Yorkers died as a result of the virus on Sunday, according to the stats.

The latest New York City data shows that the Big Apple has a 3.06 percent coronavirus infection rate on a seven-day rolling average, while the daily citywide positivity rate is at 2.95 percent.

The city’s seven-day rolling average of new virus cases is at 1,381 — a figure de Blasio described on Monday during his own press briefing as “tremendously concerning.”

There have been 100 patients admitted to city hospitals for suspected COVID-19 with 43 percent of them testing positive for the bug, according to the latest data.

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