Governor says increased testing highlights need for more hospital beds & supplies

Updated: Mar. 23, 2020 at 12:28 PM EDT
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - “We’re doing more testing than anyone.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says since the state was first allowed by the Food and Drug Administration to begin testing for COVID-19 on March 13, the rate of testing has skyrocketed.

In those 10 days, he said, the state has gone from testing around 1,000 people a day to more than 16,000.

“That’s more any other state in the United States is testing,” he said. “That’s more per capita than South Korea, which was the gold standard for testing — they were doing 20,000 per day on a much larger population.”

Cuomo said more than 78,000 people have been tested, resulting in nearly 21,000 positive cases as of Monday — about 5,700 more than Sunday.

“Our numbers on positives will be higher because we’re doing more tests,” he said.

The governor is asking the state’s hospitals to try to increase their capacities by 100 percent and mandating that they increase them by at least 50 percent.

The state currently has a little more that 50,000 available beds. Cuomo says the need could go as high as 110,000.

About 2,600 of New York’s positive cases — 13 percent — have been hospitalized. About a quarter of those hospitalized end up in intensive care.

Those intensive care numbers are what the governor says worry him the most.

Estimates place the need for ICU beds as high as 37,000. The current supply is 3,000,

Also, people in intensive care are the ones who will need ventilators, Cuomo said, and those are in short supply.

The governor once again called on the federal government to initiate the Defense Production Act, which would direct manufacturers to make certain numbers of needed supplies, including masks, gowns, and ventilators.

That way, Cuomo said, states would know how many supplies would be available and when they could expect to have them delivered.

Right now, he said, states are competing against each other for supplies and bidding the prices up.

“You cannot continue to do these supplies on a ad hoc basis,” he said.

Cuomo said New York leads the nation with more than 10 times the number of positive cases than the next three states, New Jersey (1914), California (1,849), and Washington (1,844).

The state also leads in the number of deaths with 157, compared to Washington’s 98, California’s 33, and New Jersey’s 20.

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