- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said the coronavirus situation in his state is rapidly getting worse and that the “apex” of the problem could be two to three weeks away.

Mr. Cuomo struck an urgent tone at his daily briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak in his state, ripping into the federal government for failing to send needed ventilators and saying other states should pay attention to what’s going on in New York because they’re likely to be in similar situations soon.

He said the rate of new infections is doubling about every three days at the current rate and that the “apex” is likely to come in 14-21 days.

“The apex is higher than we thought and the apex is sooner than we thought,” Mr. Cuomo said, speaking from the Javits Center in New York City.

A week ago, he said the peak might not come for another 45 days.

There are more than 25,600 positive coronavirus cases in New York and at least 210 coronavirus-related deaths. Both totals are the most out of any state in the country.

Mr. Cuomo said there could now be a need for 140,000 hospital beds in the state, up from a previous estimate of 110,000.

The current bed space is 53,000, though the Javits Center and several other locations are being repurposed as makeshift hospitals to free up beds.

Mr. Cuomo also said there could be a need for 40,000 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and that the current ICU bed capacity is 3,000.

“In many ways, we have exhausted every option available to us,” he said. “We’ve closed all the businesses, we’ve reduced the street density, and we’ve increased testing to the highest level in the country.”

Mr. Cuomo re-upped his call for the federal government to leverage the Defense Production Act to ramp up the production of critical supplies, like ventilators, saying it’s inexplicable that there hasn’t been quicker action on that front.

“I need the ventilators in 14 days — only the federal government has that power,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo said the state has procured 7,000 ventilators, which are critical for treating people who have tested positive for the virus, but that they need 30,000.

The governor, who has been complimentary of President Trump and Mr. Trump’s response to the outbreak, ripped into FEMA for saying they could supply the state with 400 ventilators.

“400 ventilators? I need 30,000 ventilators,” he said. “You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators? What are we going to do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000 ventilators?”

“You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators,” Mr. Cuomo said.

Vice President Mike Pence said shortly after Mr. Cuomo’s plea that FEMA shipped 2,000 ventilators to New York from the national stockpile earlier in the day and that they would ship 2,000 more on Wednesday.

“New York truly is the epicenter of the coronavirus now in our country,” Mr. Pence said at a Fox News virtual town hall.

Mr. Cuomo described New York as a “test case,” saying other cities and communities around the country could find themselves in similarly dire situations in the coming weeks.

“Look at us today. Where we are today, you will be in three weeks or four weeks or five weeks or six weeks,” Mr. Cuomo said. “We are your future, and what we do here will chart the course for what we do in your city and in your community.”

“I’m not asking you to help New York just to help New York,” he said. “I’m asking you to help New York to help yourselves. Let’s learn how to do it right.”

“We learn the lesson here, we will save lives in your community — I promise you that,” Mr. Cuomo said.

He did say that once the health crisis is addressed, younger people who have received coronavirus tests could be the first ones to start going back to work.

“Re-start the economy with our younger, recovered, tested workers,” he said. “Don’t make us choose between a smart health strategy and a smart economic strategy. We can do both and we must do both.”

Mr. Cuomo rejected the notion that the elderly, who along with people with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to serious complications from the virus, are expendable in that framework.

“We’re not going to accept a premise that human life is disposable, and we’re not going to put a dollar figure on human life,” he said. “What is this, some modern Darwinian theory of natural selection? ‘You can’t keep up, so the band is going to leave you behind.’ “

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, 69, on Monday suggested that he would be willing to take a chance on his own survival if it meant preserving the American way of life for future generations amid the current business shutdowns and social isolation.

Mr. Cuomo also said he’s hopeful about the prospects for an experimental drug combination of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, and azithromycin, an antibiotic, which he said hospitals will start using on Tuesday.

Mr. Trump has talked up the potential for the drug combination to help treat coronavirus, though some health experts have urged caution.

“I agree with the president — try everything you can. I agree,” Mr. Cuomo said. “I’m using it — today. … If it works, great. … Even if it does work, you’re still going to need the beds for people to be on a ventilator while you give them the drug.”

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