Cuomo issues dire warning about COVID-19 in NY; demands federal help

Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 5:29 AM EDT
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Dire new warnings about the scope of the crisis in New York from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday. He said the state is seeing a doubling of new cases every three days and the federal government is missing the magnitude of the problem. Our Roger Garrity has more on the governor's assessment and his demand for help.

Cuomo spoke with urgency about the looming health care crisis. New York is ground zero for coronavirus in the U.S. and the governor insists the feds commit as many resources as possible to save lives.

"We're not slowing it and it is accelerating on its own," said Cuomo, D-New York.

The governor said the state has failed to "bend the curve" on the new coronavirus cases. He is now projecting an apex of illnesses in as few as 14 days, with a need for 140,000 hospital beds in that time.

Right now, New York only has 53,000 beds available, so the state is putting out an urgent call for all hospitals to increase their capacity by 100 percent, while also racing to open makeshift hospitals.

The governor is also calling on all retired medical workers to volunteer to help staff those hospitals.

Cuomo says the state has a critical need for more medical supplies, especially ventilators. He took aim at FEMA for releasing only a small number from the federal stockpile.

"Four-hundred ventilators? I need 30,000 ventilators," Cuomo said. "You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?"

He said the country needs to focus more resources in New York, where its 25,000 cases are 10 times more than any other state.

"You prioritize resources and your activity and your actions to where they are needed," the governor said. "And New York... you are looking at a problem that is of a totally different magnitude and dimension."

As for the economic impact, Cuomo says he agrees with the president that the current shutdown in unsustainable, but he says we cannot choose jobs over lives.

"And we're not going to accept a premise that human life is disposable and we're not going to put a dollar figure on human life," Cuomo said.

Cuomo says a key to the economic recovery is testing-- to find the thousands of people who have already been exposed to COVID who did not get sick or have recovered. He says those people can restart the economy.

As for that call for ventilators, the White House in response says 2,000 ventilators were shipped to New York on Tuesday and another 2,000 will be shipped from the national stockpile on Wednesday.

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