New York City officials are looking to the hotel industry to increase hospital bed capacity.

At least 20 hotels have signed contracts with the city in recent days, all part of an effort to convert hotel rooms into additional hospital space as the city grapples with the coronavirus health crisis, which has sickened thousands and killed hundreds of New Yorkers.

Dr. Mitchell Katz, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, said Wednesday that the city’s current state of emergency has allowed officials to fast-track contracts with hotels. Workers will move into convert floors of rooms into hospital wings, build out nursing stations, and outfit rooms to house patients who are in need of medical care.

“We are in disaster mode so that contracts can be quickly signed. When it’s operational, patients who don’t need to be incubated, who are recovering but not well enough to leave the hospital, will be sent to hotels,” Katz said.

The city’s hotel industry has been severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis. With tourism rates rapidly declining, hotel union officials have estimated that a majority of the workforce could be laid off. It’s not yet clear if hotel workers will be involved in helping the city build out capacity, but the plan to tap into the industry is expected to help the overall industry.

The hotels are expected to be up and running this month, Katz said.

The city’s current plan to expand capacity by using large venues and hotels is estimated to create at least 39,000 more beds.



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