Stock photo.

The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $50 million contract to build a 1,000-bed temporary hospital at Stony Brook University.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is a member of the Congressional Coronavirus Task Force, announced the contract last night.

Construction is expected to be completed by April 18, Zeldin said.

“One of the greatest challenges the continued outbreak of coronavirus poses is the strain it puts on our communities’ healthcare system and possible overwhelming of our local hospitals,” Zeldin said in a statement.

LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus coverage, maps and cases by town.

The project is part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to support the FEMA-led response to the pandemic in New York, an effort which totals $350 million in funding to be spent in the state, Zeldin said.

The Army Corps is building eight temporary hospitals in New York. In addition to the one in Stony Brook, the corps will build hospitals at SUNY/Old Westbury, at the Westchester Convention Center, at the Javits Center in Manhattan, the New York Expo Center in the Bronx, Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and the College of Staten Island.

READ MORE: As Suffolk coronavirus cases spike, New York approves building temporary hospitals at Stony Brook University, SUNY Westbury

The temporary hospitals will have to be staffed and operated by the state or by hospitals within the state.

In addition, FEMA has built a 2,900-bed field hospital at the Javits Center. The FEMA field hospital will be staffed and run by the federal government.

Zeldin said every level of government is working together to deliver vital resources to Long Island.

The new facility means “more Long Islanders will receive the lifesaving care they need,” Zeldin said.

Officials are pushing to build hospital capacity in the hope of being able to treat and care for the volume of COVID-19 victims at the peak of the pandemic in New York, which they say is expected in roughly two weeks.

READ MORE: Peconic Bay Medical Center braces for coronavirus surge by expanding ICU, leasing former high school campus

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state anticipates needing as many as 110,000 hospital beds to care for COVID patients at the peak. There were 53,000 hospital beds in New York at the start of the outbreak. On average, they were 80% occupied, the governor said.

Health officials have taken steps to reduce those occupancy numbers, such as canceling elective surgeries statewide. Hospitals have also been mandated to increase their capacities internally by a minimum of 50%.

Since increasing the number of beds is meaningless without staff to treat people, the state has put out a call to retired health care professionals to volunteer to help. More than 76,000 people have stepped forward, the governor said.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.