Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s been working closely with President Trump’s son-in-law and top White House aide, Jared Kushner, to get New York ventilators as coronavirus cases continue to escalate.
Cuomo, who says procuring enough ventilators is “the single greatest challenge,” says Kushner, who is also a New Yorker has been “extraordinarily helpful” in assisting the search.
The governor estimates that as many as 30,000 will be needed when the virus peaks in a few weeks. He says the state already had 4,000 in its hospitals. New York has purchased 7,000 more, and the federal government is sending an additional 4,000, for a total of 15,000.
Cuomo says the U.S. does not need to purchase enough ventilators for the entire country all at once. He says instead they can be shifted to “hot spots” like the one in the New York City area, and then moved on to other places as the virus wanes in one region but picks up in another.
“Once you address that hotspot with that intensity, intense equipment, intense personnel, then shift to the next hotspot,” Cuomo said. “And have more of a rolling deployment across the country than a static deployment.”
State health officials are still exploring whether one ventilator can serve two patients, as was done in Italy when the virus overwhelmed that country’s health care system.
Cuomo now believes that the state could need as many 140,000 hospital beds in about three weeks, as the number of new cases increases at a steep trajectory. He says so far he has located 119,000 new beds, as hospitals make more room, the federal government sets up temporary hospitals, and dorms at public universities are converted into bed space.
He says right now every hospital in the state should have enough PPE, or personal protective equipment, as the state has purchased masks, gloves and gowns, and entered contracts with vendors to buy more. But he says the state does not have enough for the expected need in a few weeks, when the virus peaks.
“Today, no hospital, no nurse, no doctor can say legitimately say ‘I don’t have protective equipment,’” Cuomo said. “We do not yet have secured a supply for three weeks from now, four weeks from now, five weeks now. But we are still shopping.”
The governor says he’s been asking for a “surge” health care force, and he says 40,000 medical professionals have already signed up. He says 6,000 mental health professionals have also said they’ll help with a telemedicine site to help people cope with stress.
Meanwhile, Cuomo and New York Senator Chuck Schumer have widely different views on the federal bailout package approved by Congress. Cuomo says the measure would not give New York enough money to make up for the widening multibillion-dollar budget gap.
Cuomo says the $2 trillion bill would provide New York with $3.8 billion in aid, which he says is far from enough. The state is already facing an estimated $15 billion budget deficit, some of it due to a drop on the stock market. New York gets 17% of its revenues from Wall Street related taxes.
“How do you plug a $15 hole with $3.8 billion?” Cuomo asked. “You don’t.”
Cuomo says he’s talking with the state’s congressional delegation, who like the governor, are mostly Democrats, to change it.
Schumer, who is also the minority leader, said in a statement that New Yorkers will get $40 billion from the aid package, when the $1,200 checks for each adult and small business aid and extended unemployment is factored in. Schumer says billions of dollars will immediately flow to New York’s hospitals.
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