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COVID: 40K Sign Up For NY Surge Healthcare Force, 6K Volunteer To Staff Mental Health Hotline

A breakdown of the 40,000 surge healthcare force. Photo Credit:
A look at the expected need for hospital beds and current capacity in New York State. Photo Credit:
A look at hospital capacity in New York City as of Wednesday, March 25. Photo Credit:
Actual hospitalizations for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak have surpassed expectations. Photo Credit:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo discusses the state's new mental health hotline, which will be staffed by 6,000 volunteers.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo discusses the state's new mental health hotline, which will be staffed by 6,000 volunteers. Video Credit: Governor's Office

Tens of thousands of New Yorkers have signed up to be on the front lines of the state's fight to combat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

More than 40,000 mostly retired doctors and nurses will lead a Surge Healthcare Force, with the much-needed staffing that will be needed as tens of thousands of hospital beds are being added, mainly in and around New York City.

For a breakdown of the force by positions, see the first image above.

The Four Seasons Hotel on East 57th Street announced it will house nurses, doctors, and medical personnel who are helping respond to the pandemic in New York City free of charge.

The addition of the surge force, announced on Wednesday, March 25 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, come after these previously instituted measures:

  • Hospitals must increase bed capacity by 50 percent each. Cuomo said he expects some hospitals will have the means to double bed space.
  • Effective Wednesday, hospitals must postpone elective surgeries, freeing up another 50 to 60 percent of beds.
  • Temporary hospitals are being constructed in Manhattan (Javits Center, 1,000) beds as well as SUNY Old Westbury (250 beds), SUNY Stony Brook (250 beds) and the Westchester County Center (250 bed).
  • The United States Navy Ship Comfort, with a 1,000-bed capacity, will be arriving in New York Harbor early in April.

But even with those moves, Cuomo said the state is still shy tens of thousands of beds of what will be needed. (See second and third images above.)

"We're looking at hotels, former nursing homes," Cuomo said.

Cuomo also announced more than 6,000 mental health professionals have volunteered to answer questions on a newly set up Mental Health Hotline to help residents struggling with depresssion, anxiety and feelings of isolation. The number of the hotline is 1-844-863-9314.

"This is very exciting," Cuomo said. "I don't know if anyone has done this.

"God bless the 6,000 mental health professionals who are doing this 100 percent free, on top of whatever they have to do in their normal practice."

Cuomo praised all those who have stepped up to join the fight.

"New York is the canary in the coal mine," he said. "We have the most positive cases in the nation and the most critical need for equipment and personnel.

"We are doing everything we can to flatten the curve and slow the infection rate so the influx of hospitalizations doesn't overwhelm our healthcare system.

"Thousands of New Yorkers have selflessly volunteered to be part of our surge healthcare force and support the hospital surge capacity, but we need more ventilators and more hospital beds now, and we need the help of the federal government to get them.

"Different regions have different curves at different times, but New York is first, and once we get through this we can use our experience and supplies to help other states to get through this pandemic."

In another measure announced Wednesday, the NYS Public Service Commission approved orders postponing rate increases for nearly 2 million customers of New York American Water and National Grid upstate that were scheduled to go into effect on April 1.

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