National tennis center to become a temporary hospital site, with 350 beds, as New York battles virus

The site of the US Open tennis tournament in New York is going to be used for 350 temporary hospital beds and to prepare food packages during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier says an area that houses indoor courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows will begin to be converted into a medical facility starting Tuesday.

New York state and city officials are trying to increase hospital capacity by up to 87,000 beds to handle the outbreak.

Widmaier adds that kitchens at Louis Armstrong Stadium -- the second-largest arena used for the Grand Slam tournament scheduled to begin in late August -- will be used for putting together 25,000 meal packages per day for patients, workers, volunteers and schoolchildren in the city.

The USTA originally had said it was going to keep the facility open for people to take lessons, practice or play tennis.

But then the group changed course and said it was shutting the site to the public. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the use of the tennis center.