Makeshift morgue appears outside NYC hospital as coronavirus spread escalates

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A makeshift morgue has been set up outside a New York City hospital as the spread of the coronavirus is accelerating in the Big Apple.

As of Wednesday morning, New York City has 15,597 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 192 deaths, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Tuesday that the number of cases “is doubling about every three days” statewide and that forecasters are now likening its spread to a “bullet train.”

The morgue assembled outside Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital on Tuesday contained a series of white tents, two refrigerated trailers and an RV with the words “Mobile Command Center – Medical Examiner” emblazoned on it, the New York Post reported.

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A source familiar with the setup told the newspaper that more refrigerated trailers will arrive at the scene and at similar morgues envisioned for other local hospitals.

“The plan is for them to be there and throughout the city,” the source added.

Bellevue Hospital previously hosted a temporary morgue around two decades ago for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to the New York Post.

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The grim developments came as Dr. Deborah Birx -- top response coordinator for the White House’s coronavirus task force – and Vice President Mike Pence warned people who have been in the New York City metropolitan area to self-quarantine for the next two weeks if they've left town.

"Everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn't spread to others,” Birx said, while noting that 60 percent of new cases in the country are coming from the New York metropolitan area.

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Pence said the federal government is dealing with New York as “a high-risk area” and will continue to surge resources to the region. Pence added that public health officials are seeing one infection for every 1,000 people in the New York area compared to 0.1 or 0.2 per 1,000 people in places like Washington state – where the first major outbreak occurred in the U.S.

Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly contributed to this report.