Extraordinary news, from The Washington Post: 

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan, one of the largest church buildings in the world, will partner with the Rev. Franklin Graham’s ministry, Samaritan’s Purse, to set up a field hospital under its 124-foot-high stone nave, Graham said Monday.

Graham, an evangelist who will travel to New York on Tuesday to visit the Episcopal church, said New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital asked for his ministry’s help with the effort. Tents expected to hold at least 200 patients will be set up inside the cathedral by the end of the week, the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, the dean of the cathedral, told the New York Times, which first reported the news.

Church officials told the Times that about 400 beds were delivered last week, although it’s unclear whether novel coronavirus patients will be treated there.

The crypt will be used as “a staging area” for medical personnel, Daniel told the Times, and it’s the first time the cathedral will be used as a hospital.

Efforts to reach staff at the cathedral and staff at Mount Sinai were not successful late Monday.

“In the history and tradition of the church, and following the example of Jesus, cathedrals have long served as places of refuge and healing in times of plague and community crisis,” Daniel said in a statement to Episcopal News Service. Last week, the church tweeted that it planned to help the city by providing space for beds during this time.

Read on. 

From The New York Times: 

“The last thing like this was the flu pandemic in 1918, but the world was different then and I don’t think they used the cathedral in this way,” Dean Daniel said in an interview inside the empty church. “But traditionally, in earlier centuries, cathedrals were always used this way, like during the plague. So this is not outside the experience of being a cathedral, it is just new to us.”

Patients are expected to arrive at the cathedral field hospital by the end of this week or early next week, said James Patterson, its director of facilities and capital projects. He said roughly 400 beds were delivered to the cathedral last week and three tents sat in crates on a loading dock on Monday.

Church officials said that it was not clear if patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, would be sent to the cathedral, but that it seemed likely given the scale of the outbreak.

“We are assuming that there will be,” Mr. Patterson said. “That’s the way people were talking today.”

The field hospital will be staffed with personnel from Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital, which sits next door to the cathedral complex, a manicured 11-acre oasis in Morningside Heights that houses several stone buildings and three peacocks.