For President Donald Trump, the coronavirus has hit home with Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York, close to where the chief executive grew up. The hospital has “borne the brunt” of the coronavirus pandemic spreading in the city, according to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

During Tuesday’s news briefing that focused on the pandemic, Trump praised the efforts of the medical staff at Elmhurst to reporters. “I watched the doctors and nurses walking into the hospital this morning and it is like military people going into battle, going into war. The bravery is incredible. If I were wearing a hat, I'd rip that hat off so fast and I would say, 'You people are just incredible’”, he said.

The president, normally brash and bombastic, displayed a more muted tone when he said, “I’ve been watching that for the last week on television. Body bags all over, in hallways. I’ve been watching them bring in trailer trucks, freezer trucks, they’re freezer trucks because they can’t handle the bodies, there are so many of them."

He added, “This is essentially in my community, in Queens, Queens, New York. I’ve seen things that I’ve never seen before.”

Help for the overburdened Elmhurst Hospital is on the way as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, also in Queens, is to be converted into a temporary hospital with 350 beds for non-ICU patients. The venue annually hosts the U.S. Open tennis tournament held in August and September.

Mayor De Blasio said on Tuesday, “I think the time horizon that’s of deepest concern to New York City is April-May, and thereafter we pray that we start to come out of this, but it won’t be instant. August may be a very, very much better time or we may still be fighting some of these battles. We don’t know yet. By late summer, we may get some good news.”

The city is anticipating an onslaught of COVID-19 patients very shortly, so in addition to the makeshift hospital at the tennis facility, the city is working with the hotel industry, business, and the federal government to build other temporary hospitals and convert other buildings into what De Blasio termed “potential medical facilities”.

The mayor gave an estimate of three weeks to make the tennis center ready to accept non-ICU patients from Elmhurst, currently overbooked with active cases. He said, “I think it’s very fitting, and I think Billie Jean would agree, that this place will be a lifesaving place” alluding to tennis great Billy Jean King who the center was named after.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues its path unfettered with no vaccine on the horizon and only treatments described as “promising” to ease symptoms. As of Tuesday, 1096 deaths attributed to the coronavirus had occurred in The Big Apple.