NEW YORK - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says that there are now 52,318 total coronavirus cases in New York State, and 728 people have died, with officials still expecting a high point of infections to happen in 14-21 days.
“The data says, at that high point of need, you could need 140,000 hospital beds, you could need 30,000 ventilators…. We’re planning for that worst-case scenario,” Cuomo said at a press conference.
Expressing frustration that states have begun bidding against one another in the search for ventilators, Cuomo also called for a nationwide buying consortium to get needed medical equipment to states across the nation.
Cuomo also said that the state is administering tests of the drugs Hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax, to see if they will be effective to help battle coronavirus.
Cuomo announced that the temporary hospital set up at the Javits Center will open on Monday, March 30 and that the USNS Comfort is expected to arrive in New York on Monday with an additional 1,000 beds and 1,200 medical personnel. He also announced four new temporary hospital sites, at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Aqueduct Racetrack, CUNY Staten Island and the New York Expo Center.
Asked about President Trump considering the idea of a quarantine to prevent people in New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut from traveling, Cuomo said he was unsure if such an order would work.
“I don’t even know what that means, I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable, and from a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing," said Cuomo said. "I don’t like the sound of it.”
MANUAL AIR MASKS
As the state continues scrambling to try to amass 30,000 ventilators ahead of a projected mid-to-late-April peak in coronavirus cases, Cuomo bluntly illustrated the alternative: masks with manually operated air bags.
He said the state has bought 3,000 of them, has ordered 4,000 more and is considering training National Guard personnel to operate them. It entails pumping the bulb-like bag by hand -- 24 hours a day for every patient in need.
“If we have to turn to this device on any large-scale basis, that is not an acceptable situation,” Cuomo said, “so we go back to finding the ventilators.”
The federal government has sent over 4,000 ventilators to the state and New York City this week.
Cuomo said he was delaying the state's presidential primary from April 28 to June 23, when the state plans to hold legislative congressional and local party primaries.
“I don’t think it’s wise to be bringing people to one location to vote," he said.
New York joins over a dozen states that have delayed some elections. A smaller group including Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Indiana and Kentucky have also postponed their presidential primaries.
The governor's decision came as election commissioners across New York warned they were "risking" their health and safety to meet impending deadlines for testing machines and preparing ballots ahead of the April 28 date.
Local election boards have said they were facing shortages of polling places and inspectors and had called on legislative leaders and Cuomo to allow for increased use of absentee balloting for quarantined individuals and greater flexibility for elections officials to run June elections.
With the Associated Press.