Governor Andrew Cuomo called for more support for New York from the federal government during his daily COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, requesting more aid be directed here in a stimulus bill being considered by the U.S. Senate and asking the White House to send equipment and personnel here first.
Calling New York a hot spot in the fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the governor urged President Donald Trump to consider a “rolling deployment” of ventilators and medical personnel first to this state before moving to other regions.
“We can take the equipment, we can take the personnel, we can take the lessons to the next area in need,” Gov. Cuomo said.
New York State has now surpassed more than 30,800 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, with 2,260 in Suffolk County. About 3,800 people are being treated for the virus in New York hospitals with 888 in intensive care units.
The governor also repeated his estimate that New York will hit its “apex of need” — the peak number of patients being treated in hospitals — within 21 days. To meet the anticipated demand, the state still needs to find a way to acquire 15,000 ventilators and about 20,000 additional hospital beds beyond the current plan.
Mr. Cuomo said the state had 4,000 ventilators before the pandemic reached its borders and has since acquired 7,000 through purchase and 4,000 more through the federal government. Its projected need is about 30,000 ventilators and the governor said the state is exploring ways to treat two patients with one ventilator to help bridge the gap.
In order to meet the demand for hospital beds, the state has directed all hospitals to expand by 50% — with some doubling in size — the federal government is building auxiliary hospital space and supplying a Navy medical ship, and the state will use downstate college dormitories. The governor said using space in hotels and nursing homes could be a next step as the state looks to grow the number of beds to 140,000.
Gov. Cuomo did say that he was encouraged by data that suggests the strict density control measures the state has taken are working. He pointed to the hospitalization rate that had doubled in two days by Sunday and slowed to doubling every 3.4 days Monday and 4.7 days Tuesday.
“That is almost too good to be true,” he said.
The governor was perhaps most critical of a $2 trillion stimulus bill currently before the U.S. Senate he said only directs about $3.8 billion to New York. He said the package approved in the House of Representatives Tuesday night would send $17 billion to the state.
“I know $3.8 billion sounds like a lot,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That will be a drop in the bucket for us.”
The governor estimated the coronavirus pandemic has already cost New York about $1 billion.