New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he would sign an executive order Friday allowing the National Guard to take ventilators and personal protective equipment from hospitals that are not in urgent need of the equipment and send the supplies to areas that have been hit harder by the coronavirus.
Cuomo said there have been more than 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York as of Friday morning, and a majority of those cases are in New York City and its surrounding counties.
“I am signing an executive order allowing [the] state to take ventilators and PPE, which will be returned or reimbursed,” Cuomo said at a news conference, according to WGRZ-TV. “I apologize to those institutions.”
The National Guard will be mobilized to pick up and distribute supplies to hospitals in need, shifting resources around the state depending on need.
We do not have enough ventilators.
I am signing an Executive Order allowing the state to take ventilators and redistribute to hospitals in need.
The National Guard will be mobilized to move ventilators to where they are urgently required to save lives.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 3, 2020
“There could be several hundred excess ventilators in hospitals that don’t need them right now,” Cuomo said.
“If they want to sue me for borrowing ventilators to save lives, let them sue me.”
“Knowing what I know at this moment, it’s frightening,” Cori Gambini, a registered nurse and president of Communications Workers of America Local 1168, said.
Although the facilities in her area have not seen shortages yet, she does understand the current state of affairs in New York City.
“But we definitely don’t have enough to be sending anywhere,” she added.
Republican legislators in Erie County said Cuomo’s order “is extremely troubling.”
“Other parts of the state are in more advanced stages of this public health crisis and may display a greater need for our resources today than we do. However, that scenario might be different two days from now,” the Erie County Legislature Minority Caucus said in a statement.
“We cannot allow the state to confiscate our public health resources by force and redistribute them to New York City. The offer to pay for them only adds insult to injury. Once they are taken, we will not get them back when we need them, and clearly none are available for purchase.”
The statement added, “We want to help, but if we hit our peak while our resources are elsewhere, Erie County residents will die. We cannot let that happen.”
State Sen. Rob Ortt warned that the order would put residents and health care professionals in western and upstate New York in danger.
The “confiscation of these stockpiles for shipment downstate will leave our health care system dangerously low when our apex arrives,” he told The Buffalo News.
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