By Shant Shahrigian and Dave Goldiner New York Daily News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) With the rate of infection in New York doubling every three days, Governor Cuomo harshly criticized the federal government for the small number of ventilators sent to aid the state.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered a grim update on the exploding coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, saying New York is in the grip of a frightening "spike" with 25,665 people now infected in the state and 210 dead.
Speaking at the Javits Center in Manhattan, where the state is stockpiling medical supplies and the feds are setting up a makeshift hospital, Cuomo mixed soaring rhetoric and raw anger.
"The rate of increase of infection is doubling every three days," Cuomo said. "The curve is actually increasing."
"It is spiking," Cuomo said, speaking with boxes of gloves, masks and surgical gowns stacked up behind him. "That is a bad combination of facts."
New York City had 14,776 COVID-19 cases and 131 fatalities as of Tuesday morning, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio's office. Queens had the most cases out of any borough, 4,364, followed by Brooklyn, 4,237; Manhattan, 2,887; the Bronx, 2,328; and Staten Island, 935.
The governor warned that the efforts to contain the virus are so far falling dramatically short.
"We were looking at a freight train. Now we are looking at a bullet train," he said.
He harshly criticized the federal government for sending a shipment of 400 ventilators, when the state needs 30,000 within days. He said that amounts to a death sentence to ailing New Yorkers.
"You pick the people who are going to die," he bluntly said.
Vice President Mike Pence later said 2,000 ventilators were being sent Tuesday and another 2,000 on Wednesday.
Bitterly criticizing President Donald Trump, Cuomo said New York was not ready to risk the lives of elderly or vulnerable people by restarting the economy before public health experts say it is safe.
"That is not who we are, It is not what we believe," he said. "We are going to fight every way we can to save every life that we can because that's what, I think, it means to be an American. I know that's what it means to be a New Yorker."
Trump later hit back at Cuomo for "complaining." He claimed that Cuomo passed up the chance to buy 16,000 ventilators in 2015 for the state "at a very good price," without elaborating.
Cuomo said it's good that New York City residents are starting to heed warnings to limit social interaction and to stay off the streets. But he conceded that the measures are still not working, and the worst is still at least two or three weeks away.
New York will now need an estimated 140,000 hospital beds, up from 110,000 estimated before. There are only about 50,000 hospital beds in the state now.
Cuomo paid tribute to New York's medical workers, police, firefighters and transit workers, who are putting their lives on the line every day. "You want to talk about extraordinary," he said. "Extraordinary."
In addition to previously announced testing of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, the state's Health Department is experimenting with injecting plasma from infected people into other people "struggling" with the disease to see if "antibodies make a difference," Cuomo said.
Cuomo says the state procured 7,000 ventilators, "a dramatic increase", but there's still a "critical and desperate need" for 30,000 more.
New York will experiment with splitting a ventilator between two patients, a "difficult-to-perform" procedure, Cuomo says, adding, "Necessity is the mother of invention."
The state has also acquired a massive haul of medical supplies, with New York City to get 169,880 special N95 masks, 430,850 surgical masks, 176,750 gloves, 72,561 gowns and 39,264 face shields. Other parts of the state will see similar supply shipments, with the governor saying all hospitals' needs will be met, except for ventilators.
Cuomo repeated calls for the federal government to use the Defense Production Act to compel manufacturers to produce ventilators, and to send ventilators from the federal stockpile of 20,000 to New York.
"I do not for the life of me understand the reluctance to use the Defense Production Act," he said.
The governor suggested New York is being hit with the top of the disease curve first. But other states are likely to see the same problem soon.
"I'm asking you to help New York to help yourself," the governor said, addressing the nation.
"Deal with the apex here. Don't leave them sitting on a stockpile," Cuomo said. "Let's help each other."
Alluding to Trump's comments on the need to restart the economy, Cuomo said "we're not going to put a dollar figure" on human life.
"If you ask the American people to choose between public health and the economy, it's no contest. ... No American is going to say how much a life is worth."
Cuomo was flanked by Gen. Patrick Murphy and Major Gen. Raymond Shields, whom he praised as adept leaders in times of crisis.
He portrayed himself as both a leader and a foot soldier in the pandemic fight.
"I'm Private Cuomo, but I'll be your governor today," he quipped.
The governor sought to use soaring rhetoric to inspire hard-pressed New Yorkers in one of the darkest days in recent memory.
"We are New York tough. And we're going to make it," he said, "Even if it's a long day, and it's a long day, love will win."
He grew emotional talking about how elderly people cannot be "expendable" even in a harsh crisis.
"My mother is not expendable and your mother is not expendable and our brothers and sisters are not expendable," he said. "What is this, some modern Darwinian theory of natural selection?" ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.