States race to boost hospital bed capacity: 5 updates

Many hospitals in the U.S. will face capacity constraints if no measures are taken to boost bed counts. As a result, states are working to expand hospital capacity for patients with COVID-19.

Below is an update from five states racing to increase bed capacity.

New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state will need 110,000 hospital beds to treat COVID-19 patients. He issued an emergency order March 23 requiring hospitals in the state to increase capacity by 50 percent.

He's also asking thousands of retired healthcare professionals to return to their jobs and issued an executive order requiring all registered nurses to "enlist."

Mr. Cuomo also this weekend approved plans to build four temporary 250-bed hospital sites in New York. 

A U.S. Navy hospital ship has been deployed to New York City to help increase bed capacity for the state. 


California plans to expand bed capacity in the state by leasing two hospitals, one of which is currently shut down. The state will use $30 million in emergency coronavirus funding to lease Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., and St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles for three months. Both hospitals are owned by El Segundo, Calif.-based Verity Health System, which filed for bankruptcy in 2018.

Gov. Gavin Newsom also issued an executive order to increase capacity for COVID-19 patients by waiving licensing and staffing requirements for clinics, mobile healthcare units and adult day healthcare facilities. These clinics will help free up space to treat COVID-19 patients. 


State legislators are urging the governor to require several closed hospitals to reopen across the state to increase bed capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These hospitals include Melrose Park-based Westlake Hospital, Blue Island-based Metro South Medical Center and Springfield-based Vibra Hospital, according to the Chicago Tribune.

New Jersey

New Jersey hospitals will need 122,700 to 313,200 more beds than it currently has by mid-May to treat COVID-19 patients, according to an analysis from Rutgers University-Camden (N.J.) State officials and hospitals are reviewing strategies to add capacity, including reopening closed hospitals or using college dorms as temporary sites to care for COVID-19 patients, according to the Wall Street Journal


Oregon will open an emergency hospital with 250 beds, according to Oregon Live. The hospital will be on the state fairgrounds in Salem. 

The temporary hospital, to be called Oregon Medical Station, was bought by the state a few years ago to use in emergencies, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said, according to Oregon Live. 

Read more about the bed capacity issues here. 

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