Cuomo to Trump administration: 'You pick the 26K people who are going to die'


Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, speaks during a press conference against the backdrop of medical care at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. | John Minchillo / AP Photo

NEW YORK CITY – Governor Andrew Cuomo was alarmed and frustrated with the Trump administration’s response to Tuesday’s growing coronavirus crisis, and estimated that New York was only two weeks from the peak of its outbreak.

Cuomo made sure not to name President Donald Trump, but said in blunt terms if U.S. Secretary of Health Alex Azar did not release the 20,000 fans in the federal reserve and the president did not require U.S. companies to make more thousands of New Yorkers at it to die.

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“The President said it was a war … then act like that,” Cuomo said, raising his voice during a morning press conference at the Javits Center in Manhattan. “You make the deliveries? Here’s my question: where are they?”

If no more ventilators are sent within weeks, Cuomo said to the government: “You will choose the 26,000 people who will die.”

New York has procured only 7,000 of the 30,000 ventilators needed to treat the expected increase in hospitalized Covid 19 patients. Cuomo reiterated his call on the Trump administration to use the federal defense production law to conclude contracts with American companies so more of the key machines could be made in the coming weeks.

“There is no other way for us to get these ventilators. We tried everything else,” he said. “The only way we can get these ventilators is from the federal government. … If we don’t have the ventilators in 14 days, it’s of no use to us. “

He added that it was inexplicable for the President to “not exercise this power”.

With nearly 26,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, New York is nationally the epicenter of the crisis. The governor said the state is now expected to need 140,000 hospital beds when the virus peaks – which it estimates will happen in the next 14 to 21 days.

Cuomo has instructed New York hospitals to increase their total capacity from 53,000 beds to at least 75,000 with the goal of creating 110,000 beds.

The governor said he would “turn this state upside down to get the number of beds we need.” He said he was in touch with hotel owners to take over their locations and had no problem converting dormitories at state universities into makeshift hospitals.

Cuomo, however, argued that if New York didn’t have the staff or equipment needed to treat these beds, it wouldn’t mean anything.

“This is a critical and desperate need for ventilators,” he said, adding that New York is currently experimenting with ventilator sharing between two patients as a possible solution to the deficiency. “We currently have no alternative, so we’re working on this experimental application.”

FEMA has only sent 400 ventilators to New York – a lot that Cuomo says “misses the scale of the problem.”

The federal government could use its powers to provide start-up capital and guaranteed contracts to build additional fans in 14 days. Corporate volunteering – as the President has pointed out in the past few days – is not enough, said Cuomo.

He compared the current move to World War II, when the United States directly signed military supplies contracts.

“When we went to war, we didn’t say, ‘Does any company want to build a battleship out there?'” He said, mocking the federal government’s current stance.

He argued that the store would welcome such an order.

“Do you know what the business wants? They want to make money … let them open their factories and make money. Help them by ordering the supplies they need, ”said Cuomo. “That’s what the defense is [Production] Act was all about and at the speed they go – it doesn’t happen. According to FEMA, we send 400 ventilators. “Really?” What do I do with 400 ventilators if I need 30,000? “

The Trump administration has so far used his procurement agency only once during the crisis and announced on Tuesday that it would be used to a limited extent to secure 6,000 test kits.

The governor also addressed the rest of the nation directly. He said he would not hold on to the fans in New York once the need passed and he advocated unity amid a national crisis.

“I’m asking you to help New York help yourself,” said Cuomo. “Let’s learn how to act as a nation here. We will learn the lesson here and will save lives in your community.”

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