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Emergency field hospital being built in New York's Central Park

The 68-bed field hospital is expected to be ready by Tuesday to help treat the influx of COVID-19 patients who have flooded New York City's emergency rooms.
/ Source: TODAY

New York City's famous Central Park is being put to use in the fight against the coronavirus.

The North Carolina-based Christian organization Samaritan's Purse is constructing a 68-bed field hospital in the park's East Meadow in conjunction with Mount Sinai Hospital, officials from Mount Sinai announced Sunday.

The field hospital is expected to be constructed and ready to treat patients with COVID-19 by Tuesday as cases continue to skyrocket in New York and patients pack emergency rooms at hospitals across the city.

There are 33,768 cases in New York City with 776 deaths, the most of any area in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University.

A floating Navy hospital ship with a thousand beds and 12 operating areas, the USNS Comfort, is due to dock in New York harbor to treat non-coronavirus patients in order to free up hospital beds in the city.

"We still have to take care of pregnant women who have to deliver," Dr. Magdy Mikhail, chief medical examiner of Bronxcare, told Gabe Gutierrez on TODAY Monday. "We have to take care of patients who need surgery. We have to take care of kids."

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The previous five days have been the busiest ever recorded by emergency services in New York City. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a 14-day advisory on Sunday asking people to refrain from non-essential travel in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to stem the spread of the illness.

New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio also announced there will be fines ranging from $250 to $500 for not social distancing in public.

Between the three states, there are more than 70,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths. The illness has also hit hard among the police, as an estimated 900 members of the New York Police Department are believed to have COVID-19, and one uniformed officer and two other civilian employees have died from the illness.

"We are hurting," NYPD commissioner Dermot Shea said at a news conference. "We are crying, and we continue to fight."