(The Center Square) – Another torrent of newly diagnosed coronavirus cases and updated projections for how bad the crisis could get led New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to assail the federal response Tuesday morning as inadequate.
Cuomo singled out Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, demanding to know why the federal agency was sitting on a reserve of 20,000 ventilators at a time when New York is projected to urgently need 30,000 of them within a couple weeks.
“New York is the canary in the coal mine,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing at the Javits Center in Manhattan, where the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working to set up temporary hospital resources. “New York is going first. We have the highest and the fastest rate of infection. What happens in New York is going to wind up happening in California and Washington State and Illinois.”
The governor said he would pay to have the federal reserve shipped to New York and that he would personally ship them to other states once New York's crisis has passed.
Cuomo’s urgent tone and pleas for help were prompted both by the latest daily updates and also updated projections. As of Tuesday, New York has 25,665 cases of coronavirus, another almost 5,000-case increase from the previous day, and 210 people have died. Because the number of new diagnosed cases is not slowing, the governor said, the projected need for hospital beds is skyrocketing.
Over the weekend, Cuomo directed all hospitals in the state to come up with a 50 percent increase in the number of hospital beds and shoot for a 100 percent increase. Such numbers would address the then-projected shortfall – New York has 53,000 beds, and it was thought the state would need 110,000 at the height of the outbreak.
But new projections out Tuesday show that the state is expected to need 140,000 beds, including 40,000 intensive care beds, as soon as 14 days from now, the governor said.
“We haven’t flattened the curve, and the curve is actually increasing,” Cuomo said. “Not only do we have a spike in the increase … it accelerates the apex to a point where it could be as close as 14 to 21 days.”
Cuomo railed against what he described as federal authorities asserting that they had to prioritize different states, saying that New York’s crisis was far and above any other state.
“In New York, you are looking at a problem that is of a totally different magnitude and dimension,” he said, noting that other hard-hit states are dealing with something like 2,000 cases each. “Two thousand cases, frankly, we could deal with in this building. … We need federal help, and we need federal help now.”
In terms of addressing the bed shortage that is likely to take place even if hospitals can double their capacity, Cuomo talked about using college dormitories and taking over hotels as needed.
“I will turn this state upside down to get the number of beds we need.”