Cuomo: NY Could Exhaust Ventilator Stockpile In Days, Javits Center Now Treating Coronavirus Patients

WCBS 880 Newsroom
April 02, 2020 - 7:32 pm

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Thursday that the state's supply of ventilators could be exhausted in six days as the number of coronavirus cases statewide rose by 8,669 for a total of 92,381 with the number of deaths climbing to 2,373, up from 1,941 yesterday.

Cuomo said every county in the state has now reported a coronavirus case. New York City has the highest number of positive cases with nearly 52,000, but Cuomo said the rising numbers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties are very concerning.

The governor warns the challenge is still at the apex, which is expected to hit at the end of April when he projects the state will need between 70,000 and 110,000 hospital beds.

To meet some of the demand, Cuomo said a 750-bed facility will open this week at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and a mental health facility on Staten Island is being converted into a COVID-19 only hospital. The state will also look at acquiring college dorms, hotels, and other physical structures with beds.

Cuomo also announced Thursday that the 2,500-bed emergency facility that has been set up in the Javits Center will now treat coronavirus patients.

"The original plan for Javits was that it be used to take non-COVID patients from hospitals to open up hospital beds. However, the number of COVID positive patients has increased so dramatically that it would be beneficial to the state if Javits could accept COVID positive patients," Cuomo said in a statement. "I asked President Trump this morning to consider the request and the urgency of the matter, and the President has just informed me that he granted New York's request. I thank the President for his cooperation in this pressing matter and his expeditious decision making."

The governor said out of all of the state's needs, beds are easiest to find and he's most concerned about staffing and supplies, including ventilators and personal protective equipment. 

Cuomo said medical staff are being shifted from upstate to downstate where the need is greatest. He also thanked the 85,000 volunteers who have come forward to help and told the 21,000 out-of-state health care workers who have stepped up to help that New Yorkers will returned the favor.

"We'll get the experience and we will return the favor, when your comunity needs help we will be there," the governor said.

Supplies including masks, gowns and other person protective equipment for the medical personnel on the front lines of this crisis continue to be an ongoing challenge. 

Cuomo is asking any businesses capable of manufacturing these critical items to do so.

"The gowns, the gloves are not complicated components to manufacture," Cuomo said. "If you have the capacity to make these products, we will purchase them and we will pay a premium and we will pay to convert or transition your facility, but we need these materials now.

Ventilators remain the greatest concern. There were 2,200 ventilators in the state's stockpile and the supply is dwindling as demand for the lifesaving devices grows.

At current "burn rate," Cuomo said New York only has about 6 days' worth of ventilators in the stockpile.

Some hospitals have resorted to splitting one device between two patients.

But Dr. Mohamed Mansour of Stony Brook University Hospital says there are reports that up to six people could be on one ventilator :

"There's definitely reports of ventilators being split to provide one ventilator for four patients, even six patients, this is kind of uncharted territory not a lot out there as far as its safety and ethicacy but we're talking about a last ditch effort, when there are no other options available," Mansour said.

He says you do have to make sure the patients using the one ventilator have similar needs.

"Gender, height, age only in the sense that you don't ever want to match an adult with a child and then more importantly it's really trying to place like patients together, so patients that have a similar disease process and whose lungs are expected to require the same amount of pressure," Mansour said.

The state is also converting BiPAP machines into ventilators. It has purchased 3,000 BiPAP machines from Philips in Pittsburgh, and 750 machines are already in stock and will be distributed to hospitals. 

The state has also released 400 ventilators to NYC Health + Hospitals and 200 to Long Island and Westchester. 

"We know where all the ventilators are in the state of New York by hospital," Cuomo said, adding that ventilators will be moved from hospital to hospital as needed.

The governor says the federal supply is also running short and the equiptment is critical.

"If a person comes in and needs a ventilator, and you don't have a ventilator, the person dies," Cuomo said.

The governor said 16,000 New Yorkers could die from the coronavirus according to one model, which projects the fatalities nationwide could reach 98,000.

Cuomo also said the outbreak could last through the summer.

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