CORONAVIRUS

NY Airports, Hospitals Under Pressure As Virus Cases Mount

Mar 21, 2020, 12:32 PM | Updated: Jun 27, 2022, 8:04 pm
A normally very busy Times Square is nearly empty on March 12, 2020 in New York City. Many New York...
A normally very busy Times Square is nearly empty on March 12, 2020 in New York City. Many New Yorkers are heeding the advice of officials after the state banned large gatherings of 500 people or more and recommended practicing "social distancing" during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration briefly suspended flights to New York City-area airports on Saturday because of coronavirus-related staffing issues as the number of confirmed cases in New York state soared above 10,000.

State officials said they’re scouring the globe for desperately needed medical supplies and scouting field hospital locations in the New York City area. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has declared a major disaster in the state, freeing up access to billions of dollars in relief funding.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is seeking to quickly boost hospital capacity from around 50,000 beds to 75,000 beds statewide. The state has already hospitalized 1,600 people due to the outbreak, he said.

The state is looking to see whether Manhattan’s spacious Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, normally home to the auto show and other big events, could be suitable for 1,000 requested beds supplied by FEMA in a “tent configuration” with equipment and staff.

Possible locations for temporary hospital structures built by the Army Corps of Engineers include Stony Brook University and SUNY College at Old Westbury on Long Island, and the Westchester County Center north of the city. Sites will be reviewed Saturday, he said.

“Everything that can be done is being done,” Cuomo said.

The effects of the disease, known as COVID-19, are being felt everywhere from hospitals to the airports.

In an alert posted online Saturday, the FAA advised air traffic controllers to “stop all departures” to Kennedy, LaGuardia, Newark and other airports in the region because of staffing issues at a regional air-traffic control center on Long Island.

The halt, which also affected Philadelphia International Airport, was lifted after about 30 minutes. Initially air traffic controllers were warned it could last several hours.

Air-traffic controllers at Kennedy had been operating from an alternate location on airport property this week after an FAA technician assigned to the airport’s control tower tested positive for COVID-19. In a statement, the FAA said that the technician hadn’t been to work since March 11 and that the tower was being cleaned as a precaution.

Meanwhile, hospitals are facing dwindling equipment and supplies, including ventilators and masks, with an expected surge of coronavirus patients looming.

Officials have identified 2 million face masks that can be sent to hot spots, Cuomo said, and apparel companies are pivoting to make masks. One million masks are being sent to New York City hospitals Saturday, and 500,000 to Long Island. And with hospital gowns in short supply, the state is trying to obtain gown material for apparel makers, he said.

The state is also rounding up critically needed ventilators from around the state and purchasing 6,000 to deploy to the most critical areas, Cuomo said. And they are investigating whether multiple patients can be served by a single ventilator.

“We are literally scouring the globe looking for medical supplies,” Cuomo said.

The state also will immediately conduct trials of an experimental treatment with hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax.

The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine has been touted by President Donald Trump as a possible answer-in-waiting to the outbreak, though many experts caution more testing needs to be done. Cuomo said the Food and Drug Administration is sending 10,000 doses to the state.


The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus

FILE PHOTO (Photo by Jacob King - WPA Pool/Getty Images)...
MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

Moderna COVID-19 shots now an option for older kids in US

There is now a second COVID-19 option for kids ages 6 to 17 in the U.S.
9 days ago
Pfizer says it's COVID-19 vaccine is 100% effective in kids 12 to 15. (Justin Tallis-Pool/Getty Ima...
Jen Christensen, CNN

What are the COVID-19 vaccine side effects in young kids? Experts seek to ease parents’ concerns

Experts look at what side effects to expect from the COVID vaccine for children six months and older.
11 days ago
The Nurse Crisis and Patent Risk....
Debbie Worthen

Utah registered nurses are leaving the field, creating the ‘perfect storm’

"Without nurses, we can't have hospitals." Utah nurses are overworked and underpaid. Some say it's put people at risk.
12 days ago
Four-year-old Viola Fairfax-Panza Getting her COVID-19 vaccination, held by her mother Keke Fairfax...
Jed Boal

Salt Lake Co. distributes COVID vaccines for children 6-months and older

Salt Lake County begins COVID-19 vaccinations for children 6 months and older.
12 days ago
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about Covid-19 vaccines for children, in the Roosevelt Room of the ...
ZEKE MILLER and JOSH BOAK, Associated Press

Biden visits clinic, celebrates COVID shots for kids under 5

President Joe Biden is celebrating that virtually all Americans can now get a COVID-19 shot after the authorization of vaccines for kids under 5 over the weekend.
12 days ago
FILE (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)...
MIKE STOBBE, ASSOCIATED RPESS

US opens COVID vaccine to little kids; shots begin this week

The U.S. on Saturday opened COVID-19 vaccines to infants, toddlers and preschoolers. The shots will become available this week, expanding the nation’s vaccination campaign to children as young as 6 months.
14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
NY Airports, Hospitals Under Pressure As Virus Cases Mount