March 24, 2020 By Allie Griffin
The rate of new coronavirus cases is doubling every three days in New York State and the apex of the crisis is expected to hit in about two-to-three weeks, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today.
The State has failed to slow the spread of the virus, despite a near shutdown across the region. The cases are expected to peak in between 14 and 21 days, Cuomo said at a press conference at Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center — which is being converted into a 1,000 temporary hospital by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
That outbreak is expected to be worse than recently predicted. At its apex, the State may now need 140,000 hospital beds — up from the 110,000 initially estimated. There are about 53,000 hospital beds throughout New York state at this time.
Cuomo at the press conference said that there are now 25,665 cases of COVID-19 across the state and 14,904 cases in New York City. Across the state, 210 people have died.
The biggest worry is that the state’s healthcare system will be overwhelmed when the number of cases peaks.
“The inescapable conclusion is that the rate of infection is going up, it is spiking. The apex is higher than we thought and the apex is sooner than we thought. That is a bad combination of fact,” Cuomo said.
“[To] slow the spread, we will still keep doing everything we can, but it is clear that we must dramatically increase the hospital capacity … and we have to do it quickly.”
According to the latest state numbers, 3,234 people have been hospitalized for the coronavirus and about 23 percent of those — 756 — are in the ICU, mostly likely on ventilators.
Cuomo said ventilators are what make the difference between life or death for people infected with COVID-19 in critical condition — and New York needs tens of thousands more than it currently has.
The State has procured about 7,000 ventilators, but it needs an additional 30,000 and the federal government needs to step in, Cuomo said. He said the federal government has a stockpile of about 20,000 of them and the power to spur production.
New York has ten times the cases of the state with the next highest number of COVID-19 cases.
“We have 25,000 cases,” Cuomo said. “We need the federal help and we need the federal help now.”
He said the State was looking into the possibility of splitting one ventilator for two people, but that idea is still “experimental.”
The federal government must send New York more, the governor pleaded.
“Release the ventilators to New York,” Cuomo said. “How can we be in a situation where you can have New Yorkers possibly dying because they can’t get a ventilator, but a federal agency saying I’m going to leave the ventilators in the stockpile?”
He added that it was “inexplicable” as to why the federal government has not used the Federal Defense Production Act to mandate private factories to produce the needed medical supplies like ventilators.
Even if the federal government shipped out the 20,000 ventilators today, it could take up to two weeks to distribute and set them up with experienced personnel in each hospital, Cuomo said.
He scoffed at the 400 ventilators FEMA announced it was sending to New York City yesterday.
“You want a pat on the back for sending us 400 ventilators?”
“What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000?” Cuomo said, almost shouting. ” You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators.”
He said the federal government was missing the magnitude of the problem. In fact, President Donald Trump remains heavily focused on the economy.
President Donald Trump said yesterday that the country “can not let the cure be worse than the problem itself” and suggested reopening the economy — despite health experts’ objections.
However, Cuomo said New York State would not abandon its most vulnerable, the one or two percent at risk of death from COVID-19 — the elderly and those with underlying conditions — for the sake of the economy.
“We’re not willing to sacrifice the one or two percent, we’re not willing to do that,” Cuomo said.
“We are going to fight every way we can to save every life that we can because that’s what I think it means to be an American,” he added. “I know that’s what it means to be a New Yorker, so I’m not going to leave any stone unturned until we can make sure everyone is protected.”