ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Governor Cuomo said Sunday that he’s directed all of New York state’s hospitals to increase their capacity by at least 50 percent, with a goal of 100 percent.
Cuomo said New York has 53,000 beds available, and estimates the state will need 110,000 beds - double what New York now has. That’s why he’s demanding hospitals double their capacity, if at all possible.
“This is an obvious problem,” Cuomo said at a Sunday morning news briefing. The governor said the state is waiving regulations to allow hospitals to fit more beds into existing space.
At the same time, Cuomo said the state is taking over “existing residential facilities” around the state for use as temporary hospitals.
He’s also requested the Army Corps of Engineers start construction of four temporary hospitals downstate, and he’s directed that hospitals halt all elective surgeries for the time being as a way to free up beds.
Cuomo said there are now 15,168 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, up from just over 10,000 reported Saturday. He said some - but not all - of the increase is attributable to increased testing in New York.
The governor called on President Trump to “nationalize” the manufacture and purchase of medical supplies through the use of the Defense Production Act, which give the president the right to order businesses to make certain items, like masks, gowns and ventilators.
Cuomo said individual states simply can’t get supplies without federal help; “You’re hearing it all across the country from states; they just can’t deal with finding the medical supplies they need,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said New York was engaged, in some cases, in a bidding war with other states for supplies, which is driving up the price of those supplies.
For instance, he said, a mask that used to cost 85 cents now costs the state seven dollars.
“This is just an impossible situation,” he said.
“I think the federal government should order factories to manufacture masks, gowns, ventilators.”
Cuomo railed against large public gatherings and public crowds, which he said are continuing to occur in New York City.
“There is a density level in New York City that is wholly inappropriate,” he said.
“This is not life as usual. None of this is life as usual.”
Cuomo also said grocery stores and pharmacies will stay open, and he encouraged New Yorkers to stop hoarding goods.
“Life is going to go on. Different, but life is going to go on.”