New York state is 14 to 21 days from the peak of COVID-19 infections, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on March 24, as he asked the Trump administration to give the state all 20,000 ventilators in the national stockpile.
Officials previously predicted the peak would hit on May 1.
State officials had projected a need for 110,000 hospital beds, but the rate of COVID-19 infection is increasing, prompting officials to raise the projected curve—the projected rise, peak, and fall.
New projections show New York may need 140,000 beds, Cuomo said.
“The apex of this pandemic is higher and sooner than we thought. We believe we are 14 to 21 days away from this apex,” he told reporters in New York City.
“We are scaling hospital capacity as fast as humanly possible. I will turn this state upside down to get the hospital beds we need.”
Cuomo pleaded with the federal government to give up the 20,000 ventilators in reserve to the state.
Four hundred ventilators from the federal government arrived in New York City on March 24 but Cuomo dismissed the number, telling reporters: “Four hundred ventilators? I need 30,000 ventilators.”
“You’re missing the magnitude of the problem, and the problem is defined by the magnitude,” he said.
President Donald Trump pushed back in a virtual town hall in Washington, noting that the government sent some ventilators to the state.
“They could’ve had 15,000 or 16,000,” if they had ordered them in 2015, Trump said. “They can’t blame us.”
Four thousand additional ventilators were being sent to the state over the next 24 hours, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) said later in the day. The ventilators were coming as a result of discussions between Cuomo’s office, Zeldin, and incoming White House Chief of Staff Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).
Surge in Infections
New York reported another surge in infections, with 4,790 new cases, including 2,599 in New York City. The state now has 25,665 confirmed cases, the bulk of which—more than 14,900—are in the city.
Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk counties each have more than 1,800 confirmed cases, with each seeing an increase of 422 or more overnight.
“What happened to New York is going to wind up happening to California and Washington state and Illinois. It’s just a matter of time,” Cuomo said.
“Deploy the resources. Deploy the ventilators here in New York for our apex. Once we’re past that critical point, deploy the ventilators to other parts of the country where they’re needed.”
New York would be responsible for transporting the ventilators to anywhere in the country the Trump administration wants, the governor said.
He also called on Trump to use the Defense Production Act to force companies to produce ventilators to help meet the 30,000 figure that state officials are projecting.
Some companies are stepping forward and shifting their manufacturing facilities to the production of ventilators, Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told reporters on March 23. They include Ford, General Electric, and 3M.
The administration asked governors to survey all outpatient surgical centers and hospital operating rooms for surgical ventilators, which can be easily be converted to ventilators for people with COVID-19 because of a decision the Food and Drug Administration made recently. There are tens of thousands of surgical ventilators across the nation, according to Pence.
“That’s in addition to what we have in the National Stockpile, the ventilators that we have in the marketplace today, as well as extraordinary efforts by American industry to step up and join us in manufacturing more ventilators for the American people,” Pence said.
The White House didn’t immediately return questions about whether the administration will send additional ventilators to New York.