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'It's what was happening in Italy': the hospital at the center of New York's Covid-19 crisis
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New York is the center of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States, and Elmhurst hospital in the New York City borough of Queens is the center of the center. In just one 24-hour period this week, at least 13 patients were reported to have died at the hospital, where the medical examiner’s office has stationed a refrigerated trailer to act as a makeshift morgue. Officials have described the hospital as “overwhelmed”, “overrun” and calling out for one thing: “Help.”

“People are going to die,” said Francisco Moya, the New York City council member who represents the Elmhurst neighborhood. “The rate in the next few days [will] continue to go up, and people are going to get scared and get shocked.” The US surpassed virus hotspots China and Italy with 82,404 cases of infection on Thursday night, according to a tracker run by Johns Hopkins University. Hours earlier, New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, had announced there were 23,112 Covid-19 cases in New York City alone, and 365 deaths. Queens accounts for one-third of cases in the city.

“Elmhurst hospital is at the center of responding to this crisis. It’s the No 1 priority of our public hospital system right now,” de Blasio said on Thursday. The hospital is located in one of the poorest and most diverse areas of the city, home to 20,000 recent immigrants from 112 different countries. It was already operating at 80% capacity before the coronavirus pandemic, with plans to expand its emergency department. One doctor told BuzzFeed the facility is “held together by a shoestring”. It was operating at 125% capacity as of Thursday morning, with dozens more people lined up outside seeking tests and treatment.

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