The New York Racing Association /NYRA/ announced Saturday that Aqueduct Racetrack building would serve during the period of combatting the coronavirus /Covid-19/ pandemic as a temporary hospital site, one of four emergency facilities to be set up in New York City.
Temporary Local Facilities May Prove Vital
After New York Gov. Cuomo explained on Friday that the state would be seeking the approval of federal authorities to set up a temporary hospital in the borough of Queens at Aqueduct Racetrack, a day later it turned out the governor’s request was approved and the building at the racetrack site would become an overflow facility for 1,000-plus patients.
In addition, state government would set up similar facilities in Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx, with locations already federally approved, as well as in Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties.
All Resources Available
The Aqueduct Racetrack has been closed since March 19, after a track worker at nearby Belmont Park tested positive and the initial announcement Wednesday was that the racetrack would be shut down until April 5, at least.
The recent virus spread developments in New York, the state with the most reported cases of the Covid-19 disease, put pressure on medical resources and prompted the need for setting up temporary facilities, forcing the governor’s hand to mobilize all available resources to combat the pandemic, including the arrival of a navy medical ship, the USNS Comfort.
“NYRA and the New York racing community are thankful for Governor Cuomo’s steady leadership during this unprecedented public health crisis, and we stand ready to assist in any way we can. The governor’s ability to quickly marshal all available resources is saving lives and inspiring action both here in New York and across the nation”Dave O’Rourke, CEO & President, NYRA
Aqueduct Racetrack Emergency Proven
NYRA has a history of providing sites in emergency situations, such as in 2012, when the parking lot of the Aqueduct Racetrack was donated to the American Red Cross, to serve as a mobile kitchen and relief supply in the area, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
Before that, in 2001, the nearby Belmont Park served as a staging area for emergency vehicles and personnel in the aftermath of the events of 9/11, which did not prevent the track from hosting the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships in October.
As the Aqueduct Racetrack would be turned into a hospital facility, the schedule of future events has been affected. The previously slated for April 4, Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino, has been postponed, while the 152nd running of Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes is scheduled to run June 6, as the highlight of the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival set to begin June 4.
Recently, another horse racing event, the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, was also affected by the coronavirus spread, forcing Churchill Downs Incorporated /CDI/ to postpone it to September.