Cuomo to Order Ventilators, PPE to Be Moved to Hardest Hit Areas

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to issue an executive order that would move ventilators and personal protection equipment for healthcare workers from hospitals that currently have a surplus to facilities overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.

With a shortage of ventilators and the number of cases statewide soaring on Friday to more than 102,000, Cuomo has urged hospitals throughout New York to help the areas that are in greatest need. There are hospitals in upstate New York that have few COVID-19 patients while New York City and now Nassau County are struggling to keep up with the demand.

“I don’t have an option and I don’t want to get into a situation where we are running out of ventilators and we have people dying because there are no ventilators, but there are hospitals in other parts of the state that have ventilators that they’re not using,” Cuomo said.

He said that a facility that relinquishes its excess supply will have the equipment returned or the state would pay to have the items replaced.

Announcement of the move Friday morning came as the governor announced that another 592 New Yorkers died during the previous 24 hours from the coronavirus. The state has had 2,935 deaths from the disease. Cuomo has repeatedly stated that when the state reaches its peak of cases and hospitalizations, projected for the end of April, the state might need upwards of 30,000 ventilators.

Westchester County has had the second most cases in the state at 12,351, according to the state Health Department, but Nassau County is gaining quickly, with 12,024 as of Friday morning.

“You (had) more death, more people coming into hospitals than any other night,” Cuomo said.

On Thursday, Cuomo said that at the current rate of usage, New York would run out of ventilators within six days. He estimated that the state could shift several hundred ventilators from upstate to downstate hospitals providing a supply for an additional day. The National Guard will be deployed to move the equipment.

“It’s sharing of resources. We’re going to share resources,” said Cuomo.

The state is also prepared to split ventilators to serve more than one patient at a time, use BiPAP machines for patients who need a lower thrust of oxygen and even use manual pumps in hopes of saving as many lives as possible.

Cuomo is also calling on companies in New York State who can produce masks, gowns, gloves and face shields to assist in the supply shortage. The state would pay any company to help transition its operations to enable it make the equipment.

The governor also announced that the Javits Center in Manhattan will now be accepting COVID-19-positive patients. Originally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) opposed that the convention center, which has been transformed into a 2,500-bed temporary hospital, did not want the facility to accept COVID-19 patients.

However, Cuomo said after speaking with President Donald Trump, FEMA has agreed to make the change. With so many people at home and events canceled, there has been a sharp drop in other types of hospital patients.

“Ironically, the number of non-COVID cases has dropped because so many things have shut down that you don’t have the same number of automobile accidents or people getting hit by cars,” Cuomo said. “You don’t have the same crime rate, so you don’t have the same number of trauma cases coming into a hospital. They are COVID cases and many of them go straight to the ICU.”

The naval ship Comfort, docked in Manhattan, will continue to only take COVID-19 cases, he said.

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