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As virus toll mounts in NY, more hospitals sought

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NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump and elected leaders in New York are clashing again over the depth of the state’s coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, the outbreak is taking its toll on the state’s civil servants, with the virus claiming the lives of bus and train workers and a civilian employee of the New York Police Department.

There are more than 6,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in New York, with almost 1,600 in intensive care. New York has logged a nation-high of 519 deaths, and has more than 44,000 confirmed cases.

Here are the latest coronavirus developments in New York:

MORE HOSPITALS SOUGHT

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state wants to build four more temporary hospitals in New York City within weeks, before coronavirus cases are projected to peak.

The state is seeking authorization from the Trump administration to add 4,000 beds in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. The hospitals would be constructed at a horse track, a city college, an expo center and a cruise ship terminal.

The requested conversions are part of the state’s broader effort to quickly increase New York’s hospital capacity from 53,000 beds to up to 140,000 beds. The federal government is already constructing a hospital at a Manhattan convention center and a Navy hospital ship is due to arrive Monday in New York City, a global hotspot of the outbreak.

“Were looking far and wide, very creative, aggressive and finding all the space that we can possibly find,” Cuomo said.

SCHOOL CLOSURES

Schools in New York state will remain closed for another two weeks until April 15, Cuomo said.

The governor two weeks ago had ordered schools closed through April 1 as part of the state’s effort to slow the transmission of the outbreak. New York City schools are closed through April 20, though officials say the city closure could last the rest of the school year.

“I don’t do this joyfully, but I think that when you look at where we are, when you look at the number of cases still increasing, it only makes sense to keep the schools closed,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said they would reassess closures closer to April 15.

TRUMP DOUBTS DEPTH OF CRISIS

New York City’s Democratic mayor, Bill de Blasio, tangled with Trump again Friday after the Republican president expressed doubts about the depth of the crisis in the city’s hospital system and its urgent need for more breathing machines.

“When the president says the state of New York doesn’t need 30,000 ventilators, with all due respect to him, he’s not looking at the facts of this astronomical growth of this crisis,” de Blasio said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Trump on Thursday told Fox’s Sean Hannity, “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”

The federal government has been sending ventilators to New York and more help is on the way, including a Navy hospital ship and temporary hospitals from the military and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“So we’ve gotten something. I’m thankful for that,” the Democratic mayor said. “But it has to keep coming.”