Ventilator Demand Slows in New York, California

April 6, 2020 Updated: April 6, 2020

New York doesn’t need any more ventilators and California is in good enough condition to send 500 ventilators to states in worse shape, their governors said on Monday, a sign that the CCP virus curve appears to be flattening in both states.

“We don’t need any additional ventilators right now,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters at a press conference after repeatedly warning in recent days that the state needed up to 40,000 of the breathing machines.

Cuomo declined to state how many ventilators the state has in stock and his office hasn’t responded to requests for information about the state’s ventilator situation. One updated model indicated the state would need only 10,606 ventilators.

California, meanwhile, has seen a slowdown of new cases, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to loan 500 ventilators to states where the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, has gotten worse.

“California is stepping up to help our fellow Americans in New York and across the country who are being impacted the hardest right now by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Newsom said in a statement. Modeling shows the state won’t hit its peak of cases until next month, the governor said.

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A worker disinfects handrails at the emergency entrance outside the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the outbreak of the CCP virus in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York on April 6, 2020. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)

The CCP virus causes COVID-19, a disease.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown sent 140 ventilators directly to New York over the weekend while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday his state would return more than 400 ventilators it received from the Strategic National Stockpile to help states dealing with more COVID-19 cases.

“These ventilators are going to New York and others states hardest hit by this virus,” Inslee said in a statement. “I’ve said many times over the last few weeks, we are in this together. This should guide all of our actions at an individual and state level in the coming days and weeks.”

Early social distancing measures in the western states have been credited by some experts with slowing the spread of the virus and preventing an explosion in cases like the one New York has experienced. Inslee said Washington recently purchased more than 750 ventilators, which it expects to receive over the next several weeks.

The updated model, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, dropped the projected deaths from COVID-19 by some 12,000, with modelers citing data from New York, California, and other states. It also dropped the projected number of hospital beds, intensive care unit beds, and ventilators needed in many states. California will need between 432 and 1,278 ventilators during its projected peak on April 15, models predicted, while Washington will need just 165 of the machines during its peak on April 6.

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A ventilator is seen at the New York City Emergency Management Warehouse, where 400 ventilators arrived and before being shipped out for distribution, due to concerns over the rapid spread of the CCP virus in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on March 24, 2020. (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)

Heart of Tension

Ventilators have been at the heart of tension between some governors and President Donald Trump, who has questioned the requests from some quarters while having the national stockpile send machines to the hardest-hit states.

“Look, we had one state asking for 40,000 ventilators. Forty thousand. Think of it: 40,000. It’s not possible. They won’t need that many, and now they’re admitting they don’t need that many. But we’re getting as many as we can to them,” Trump said in Washington over the weekend at a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing.

The federal government has sent 4,400 to New York, which scrambled to obtain more machines when faced with dire predictions. Now that those have been rolled back, it wasn’t clear if the state still needed more.

Around 80 percent of patients who contract COVID-19 require hospital care and a subset of those need intensive care. Many of the patients in ICUs need assistance breathing, which is typically done through ventilators.

Fears of ventilator shortages prompted drastic action in some states, including exploring a method known as splitting where one ventilator serves two patients. New York officials have approved the method and hospitals in the state have been using some anesthesia machines as ventilators, as well as BiPAP machines, normally used on patients who are having trouble sleeping.

Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in the state, said on Sunday that a memo outlining guidance to medical staff on how to deal with a lack of ventilators leaked to a news outlet was a draft, adding, “We are not at that point at all.”

“We have sufficient ventilators for the foreseeable future, and we’re obviously getting more supply,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

About 20 percent of patients who go on a ventilator survive, according to Dowling. Patients with COVID-19 who require assistance breathing spend weeks on the machines, state officials have said, versus non-COVID patients, who spend just two or three days on them.

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