The so-called largest Gothic cathedral in the world is about to become a coronavirus field hospital. The dean of Manhattan's Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine said Monday that its 600-foot-long nave would be fitted with nine climate-controlled medical tents holding at least 200 beds combined (400 have been dropped off), with patients arriving as soon as this week, reports the New York Times. More than 68,000 people in the city have fallen ill, including almost a fifth of uniformed NYPD officers, per CNN. "In earlier centuries, cathedrals were always used this way, like during the plague," said Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, who offered the building for use by Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital last month. "It is just new to us."
The cathedral's crypt is to act as a staging area for medical personnel from the hospital, which sits beside the 11-acre cathedral complex. Still, it's unclear how officials plan to feed and bathe patients. "There is still a lot of engineering involved with things like showers and things like that," director of facilities James Patterson said, per the Times. The evangelical Christian group Samaritan's Purse—which helped build a 68-bed field hospital in Central Park late last month, per the Washington Post—is also helping with this project. Though the group has been accused of discrimination against Muslims and the LGBT community, it has promised to abide by the city's anti-discrimination laws. (Read more New York City stories.)