Local military members making big difference in coronavirus-struck Big Apple


NEW YORK, N.Y. (WAVY) – New York and New Jersey have been hit hardest by the coronavirus.  

Help is there from all over, and that includes local military members from Hampton Roads. Many of them say they are in the middle of something they’ve never seen before.

“I’ve been deployed to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Maj. Gen. Bill Hall.  “I’ve been the military commander for two Super Bowls in my career and it is unlike anything that I’ve ever done.”

Hall, who is stationed at Fort Eustis, is the commander of Task Force New York/New Jersey. 

“It’s been incredible,” Hall added.

 The group is made of military members from every branch and they are providing much-needed support.

“The challenges that New York and New Jersey [are] going through are unprecedented across the nation,” Hall said.

The first hurdle for the task force was to convert the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center into a hospital.

“The Javits Center, probably the last thing they did was host a car show,” Hall added. “You know it’s a massive convention center. We built that from nothing to what it is today.”

Members who are mostly in the health care profession are now working around the clock in the makeshift hospital.  

“Just to put it into perspective, there are 55 hospitals in the City of New York and we are the 10th-largest hospital in the city,” Hall said.

Those task force members who aren’t working at the Javits Center are at other area hospitals helping to remove those who have passed away.  There is no doubt an emotional toll.

“And it’s physically exhausting to everybody,” Hall added.  “They are working 18 hours a day, get a little bit of chance to eat and typically when they get back to their rooms all they want to do is go to sleep.”

Hall says it appears New York has seen its peak in COVID-19 cases. Yesterday, there were more releases from the Javits Center than admissions — but the task force isn’t leaving yet.

“Everybody is cautiously optimistic,” Hall said.  “We don’t want to pull out and then there be another surge. Right, right we are here.”

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