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Former Washington Journalist
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Maintaining an adequate supply of ventilators to match the demand of the stream of hospitalized COVID-19 patients filling New York state beds has been a singular challenge during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and the federal government has been an unreliable partner in helping meet demand, according to New York Gov Andrew Cuomo (D).
There have been more than 1.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. The virus has killed more than 73,000.
In the United States, there have been 367,004 reported cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. There have been 10,871 deaths, according to the most recent figures.
Most of those US cases are centered in and around the New York area, which has been the epicenter of the pandemic.
“We had a projected model that we would need about 30,000 ventilators. You know, what governors do — well, I can’t speak for all governors. I work with many of them and many of them are my colleagues. What we do in New York is, we do this from data and from a science. You know, I’m not a medical professional. And I don’t have a crystal ball. So, use the data. Use the science. And follow the numbers. We have projection models, which, by the way, are basically on track with what we’re seeing,” Cuomo said. “And from those projection models, we’ve been trying to get supplies, which has been the great shortage all across this country and that’s going to be a story for another day. But, those are the models we’ve been following, how many beds, how many ventilators, etc.
“Ventilators wound up key in this specific situation. And I don’t think anyone anticipated it, and frankly, I don’t think anyone could. This virus happened to be a respiratory virus. Happened to be almost paralyzing of the lungs in the right circumstances. And you needed a ventilator to keep a person alive, and if you didn’t have a ventilator, you couldn’t be of any assistance to that person. So you had this mad scramble for ventilators nationwide. But everyone had to do what they could do to get the right number. And you were following a projection model. So we’ll see what we need at the end of the day. But there’s no reason for anyone to get defensive about this either,” Cuomo added. “I understand, the federal government does not have the stockpile that can serve the nation. That’s a fact. So let’s stop worrying about yesterday and start planning for tomorrow.”
The governor was asked that, if he requested 30,000 ventilators, how many does the state actually have, and is it enough?
“Right now, it is not enough. What we’re doing is, we have come up with very creative and elaborate plans. We’re moving ventilators around the state from hospital to hospital,” Cuomo replied. “There’s a new device that actually, what they call, splitting a ventilator, where one ventilator can operate two sets of tubes for two sets of patients. We’re using what’s called BiPap machines, which are not really ventilators, but they can help people who don’t really need a full ventilator and they assist breathing, rather than a full ventilator. So we’ve come up with all of these fallback adaptations to make do, you know? The old expression is, you don’t go into war with what you want, you go to war with what you have.
“So, yes, plan, and we try to get the right supplies. At the end of the day, you have what you have, and you have to make do. You can’t find a ventilator on this planet, at this point,” the governor added. “Every country is trying to get it. So we’ve come up with very creative ways to make do with the equipment we have.”
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