The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in New York is accelerating and will peak in two to three weeks with more cases than predicted, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today, calling on the federal government to release a stockpile of some 20,000 critical ventilators to the state, which will send them elsewhere after the worst of the pandemic passes.
Projections now are there will be a need for 140,000 hospital beds compared to projections last week that 110,000 beds would be needed, and compared to the 53,000 normally available, Cuomo said in his daily briefing on the outbreak.
“We’re not slowing it, and it is accelerating on its own,” Cuomo said. “The apex is higher than we thought, and the apex is sooner than we thought. That is a bad combination of facts.”If the federal stockpile of some 20,000 ventilators is released immediately, it will take two weeks to get the ventilators in place, Cuomo said.
The state needs an estimated 30,000 ventilators, and Cuomo called on using the Defense Production Act to contract with manufacturers for the machines and to provide capital to start production.
He warned that New York is only the first to have such a high number of cases, which is more than 20,000, compared to fewer than 3,000 each in California and Washington state.
“New York is the canary in the coal mine,” Cuomo said.
“What happens in New York is going to wind up happening in California and Illinois and Washington state. It’s just a matter of time.”
The hospitalization rate is at 23 percent, according to Cuomo.
To provide care for the expected gravely ill, Cuomo said the state is continuing to recruit retired doctors and other health professionals and those who work outside immediate health care such as clinics and insurance companies.
The state is also launching experimental use of an anti-malaria drug thought to have potential in fighting the coronavirus, and of an experimental therapy using plasma from recovered people whose antibodies might help those fighting the illness.
As for preserving the economy, Cuomo acknowledged that is a concern and said it may be possible to focus on protecting the most at-risk people, but insisted public health must come first.
“No American is going to say accelerate the economy at the cost of human life, because no American is going to say how much a life is worth. Job one has to be save lives.”