Critics say President Donald Trump wants to put lives in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to prevent it.
That’s the difference between the Republican and the Democrat as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates toward its peak infectious period in New York state in the next two to three weeks.
As the wave approaches, Cuomo said the state is scrambling to fill hospitals with thousands more beds, staff, equipment and ventilators.
Trump last Wednesday finally invoked the Defense Production Act, created 70 years ago to give government the power to direct industry to produce goods needed in a national emergency.
Cuomo has been pleading with Trump for weeks to invoke the act, but was met with resistance.
Had Trump done so, New York would not be begging, cap in hand, for beds and ventilators.
The state has 53,000 hospital beds and 3,000 intensive care unit beds. The state will need 140,000 total beds and 40,000 ICU beds to avoid falling short of expert health projections. Hospitals must increase their existing capacity by 100%. All regulations on space have been waived to enable hospitals to meet the goal.
But the state’s biggest need is ventilators. New York procured 7,000 ventilators as of Tuesday, but needs 30,000 total. Cuomo asked Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act. The president signed the order, and then failed to enforce it.
People under respiratory distress will need the ventilators. They will make the difference between life and death. State health officials have been working around the clock scouring the globe for the machines.
State officials are weighing the few options left open to them, including splitting ventilators so two patients could use one machine. Cuomo urged the federal government to close the ventilator gap to save as many lives as possible before the peak hits. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is set to give the state 400 additional ventilators, but that number is not enough.
“The only way we can obtain these ventilators is from the federal government, period,” Cuomo said Tuesday. “If we don’t have the ventilators in 14 days it does us no good.”
We simply do not understand Trump’s reluctance to enforce the Defense Production Act to its fullest extent. New York state and Greene and Columbia counties need federal help, and we need the help now.