An emergency field hospital set up in New York’s Central Park to treat coronavirus patients will be closed in mid-May, the humanitarian organisation running it announced on Saturday.
The announcement is an additional sign, after the departure of a military hospital ship, that the pandemic is slowing down in New York.
In late March, at the height of New York’s coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical humanitarian organisation, set up some 12 tents equipped with ventilators in Central Park opposite a hospital.
So far it has treated 191 people infected with coronavirus, but from Monday, it will stop taking in new patients, the organization said in a press release. They will take down their tents in two weeks’ time. In the meantime, patients who are currently there will keep receiving care.
“This marks a significant turning point in the coronavirus outbreak in New York because it means the case numbers are declining to the point that the local healthcare system will be able to meet the needs,” Samaritan’s Purse said.
The announcement came two days after the departure of the USNS Comfort, a military vessel which had arrived in Manhattan’s Port on 30 March as part of a vast operation to double the number of hospital beds in the state of New York, the epicentre of the epidemic in the United States.
The number of hospitalisations eventually proved to be below the most pessimistic forecasts and, as a result, another field hospital, erected at the Javits Convention Centre in New York, with a capacity of close to 3,000 beds, is also scheduled to close down next week.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday that 299 persons had died from coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, bringing the state’s death toll since the start of the pandemic to 19,000.
U.S. Navy Blue Angels fighter planes and Airforce Thunderbirds flew over the cities of Baltimore (Maryland), Atlanta (Georgia) and Washington D.C., the capital, on Saturday to honour healthcare workers and first responders.
Demonstrations were also held during the day in various U.S. cities to press demands for lockdown measures to be relaxed.