Cuomo orders shift in ventilators to overwhelmed hospitals

ALBANY, N.Y. (WCAX) New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to seize critical medical equipment from around the state and get it to hard-hit areas. Our Roger Garrity reports.

New York remains at the epicenter of the pandemic with more than 100,000 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths. For days, the governor has been sounding the call for more lifesaving equipment directed to the New York City area. Friday, he made it an order.

"I'm going to sign an executive order that says this state can take ventilators and PPE from institutions that don't need them now and redeploy them to other parts of the state and other hospitals that do need them," said Cuomo, D-New York.

The governor says the downstate area is only a few days away from running out of ventilators that keep severely ill COVID patients alive.

"I'm not going to be in a position where people are dying and we have several hundred ventilators in our own state somewhere else," he said.

The order raises questions about whether areas with low infection totals will be left without protective equipment and ventilators should those areas suddenly see a sharp rise in patients.

So far, New York's North Country has not been hard hit. But Congresswoman Elise Stefanik notes the region has the largest number of seniors in the state-- the most vulnerable age group. Stefanik says our critical needs and vulnerabilities must be considered.

But health officials in Clinton County say they understand the governor's order.

"Right now, if there are people who need these resources and they will live because we are able to provide these resources, it is our moral imperative that we help people live whether they are in Clinton County or whether they are in any other location," said Erin Streiff of the Clinton County Health Department.

Cuomo says the critical supplies will be replaced or returned to where they are borrowed from once they are no longer needed.