Cuomo: NY Has Thousands of Ventilators in Storage But Needs Tens of Thousands More
CORRECTION, April 4, 2020: This article was originally published under the headline, “Trump Was Right: Cuomo Admits New York Has ‘Stockpile’ of Ventilators,” which was unintentionally misleading. The phrase “Trump Was Right” was intended to relate only to the president’s statement that New York had thousands of ventilators in storage, but implied that they needed no additional ventilators, which remains to be seen. In addition, it could easily have been interpreted to mean that the president’s entire tweet has correct, when a portion of it — “N.Y. must distribute NOW!” — is not true by any objective measure. Common sense indicates that the ventilators currently stockpiled should remain where they are until it is clear if, when and where they are needed.
Moreover, the use of the word “Admits” in the original headline strongly implied guilt or a reluctant confession on the part of Gov. Cuomo, which was not the case. Rather, the governor made a cogent argument for his position as to why the ventilators were still in storage and that still more would be needed in the coming weeks or months. We apologize to Gov. Cuomo for implying otherwise.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted that his state already has thousands of unused ventilators — even as he and the establishment media hammer President Donald Trump over a supposed shortage of the potentially life-saving medical devices in the Empire State.
Speaking at his daily news briefing on March 27, the Democratic governor said his state has the unused ventilators in a “stockpile.”
“Yes they’re in a stockpile because that’s where they’re supposed to be because we don’t need them yet,” Cuomo said, according to the New York Post. “We need them for the apex. The apex isn’t here so we’re gathering them in the stockpile so when we need them they will be there.”
Cuomo has insisted that New York might need up to 40,000 ventilators, an estimate which Trump has pushed back on.
The president told Fox News host Sean Hannity on March 26 he believed government officials in New York are overestimating how many ventilators the state will need to treat patients diagnosed with the coronavirus.
“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’” he said.
The subject of ventilators turned political when multiple establishment media outlets accused Trump of downplaying the need for the devices — which are a commodity for hospitals across the country, and not just in New York.
Liberal publication Salon wrote that the president “dismissed pleas for thousands of life-saving ventilators from Democratic governors in states hit hard by the new coronavirus.”
CNN, meanwhile, included Trump’s skepticism that his home state will need 40,000 ventilators as one of its “30 most outrageous lines from Donald Trump’s interview with Sean Hannity.”
“No big deal! Just the President of the United States suggesting that the governor of New York is lying about the number of ventilators he needs to help keep people alive! What proof did Trump offer to back up this claim? Um, none,” CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote.
But as Cuomo and other civic leaders join the media in calling for more of the devices, Trump pointed out that New York already has thousands of them in storage.
“Thousand of Federal Government (delivered) Ventilators found in New York storage. N.Y. must distribute NOW!” Trump tweeted March 27.
Thousand of Federal Government (delivered) Ventilators found in New York storage. N.Y. must distribute NOW!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
Cuomo responded by telling CNN that Trump is “grossly uninformed” on the issue, before revealing New York has indeed been stockpiling ventilators.
“The point is, we have ventilators in a stockpile and we didn’t send them to the hospital yet. Of course we didn’t — that’s the whole point. The hospitals don’t need them yet. The hospitals aren’t at their apex,” Cuomo said.
“The hospitals have enough ventilators today, but their numbers are going up. We’re planning for an apex, a high point, in about 21 days — that’s when we need the 30,000 ventilators, not today. Right now we’re putting them in a stockpile,” he added.
Cuomo also told “NBC Nightly News” host Lester Holt that he is basing his projections on data from “worldwide health experts.”
“I hope no one needs a ventilator,” he said. “But, I don’t operate on what I hope or what I would like to see or what my expectation is. I operate on the data and on the numbers and on the science.
“And every projection I have, from multiple sources, and these are worldwide health experts, say that we have to be prepared for an apex of 140,000 hospital beds and 40,000 ICU beds with ventilators.”
Melissa DeRosa, one of Cuomo’s top aides, admitted New York already has thousands of ventilators, but repeated Cuomo’s projection that the state will need tens of thousands more.
“The 2K arrived Wednesday & have been deployed to the strategic stockpile,” she tweeted in response to Trump. “We dont know which hospitals will have the need yet-this is evolving in real time.”
“The feds gave NYS 2K — we need 30K. We have to be smart about what we have & be able to move on a dime. Lives are at stake.”
The 2K arrived Wednesday & have been deployed to the strategic stockpile
We dont know which hospitals will have the need yet-this is evolving in real time
The feds gave NYS 2K – we need 30K. We have to be smart about what we have & be able to move on a dime
Lives are at stake https://t.co/i9IpOJOCpR
— Melissa DeRosa (@melissadderosa) March 27, 2020
Vice President Mike Pence said March 24 that the federal government had sent 2,000 of the devices directly to New York on and added that New Yorkers would receive an additional 2,000 by the next day, Fox News reported.
“Earlier today, FEMA, from the national stockpile, shipped 2,000 ventilators to the state of New York,” Pence said.
“Tomorrow, there will be another 2,000 ventilators shipped from the national stockpile.”
Pence’s comments came after Trump had already announced that the federal government had sent 400 ventilators to New York.
At the time, Cuomo was requesting only 15,000 of the devices.
But the number of ventilators being requested continues to climb as the Trump administration responds.
It is unclear exactly how many ventilators New York currently has stockpiled.
A 2015 “Ventilator Allocation Guidelines” summary letter from top New York health experts urged the state to prepare for a health emergency — specifically citing a respiratory pandemic — and evaluated a need for the state to allocate more ventilators in the event of a worst-case scenario public health emergency.
“In a severe public health emergency on the scale of the 1918 influenza pandemic, however, [current] ventilators would not be sufficient to meet the demand,” the experts wrote.
“Even if the vast number of ventilators needed were purchased, a sufficient number of trained staff would not be available to operate them. If the most severe forecast becomes a reality, New York State and the rest of the country will need to allocate ventilators.”
“Efforts should be made to increase the number of available ventilators,” they added.
The summary noted that the state had 1,750 ventilators stockpiled, and a total number of 8,991 ventilators were available in the state at the time.
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