New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, on Sunday called on President Trump to mobilize the Army Corps of Engineers to help fight the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
Cuomo indicated that New York does not have enough hospital beds to house a potential flood of coronavirus patients, and that only the military would be able to augment existing facilities to house those patients.
“States cannot build more hospitals, acquire ventilators or modify facilities quickly enough” to stem the outbreak, Cuomo wrote in a New York Times op-ed. “At this point, our best hope is to utilize the Army Corps of Engineers to leverage its expertise, equipment and people power to retrofit and equip existing facilities — like military bases or college dormitories — to serve as temporary medical centers. Then we can designate existing hospital beds for the acutely ill.”
Cuomo continued: “We believe the use of active duty Army Corps personnel would not violate federal law because this is a national disaster. Doing so still won’t provide enough intensive care beds, but it is our best hope.”
Cuomo also appealed to President Trump to put aside disagreements between their respective political positions in order to manage the outbreak.
Trump on Friday declared a national emergency to allow the federal government to direct billions of dollars toward fighting coronavirus.
“In the coming weeks, we will all have to make changes and sacrifices,” Trump said in a speech at the White House Rose Garden. “But these short-term sacrifices will produce long-term gain.”