State faces massive losses due to coronavirus, governor says

WWNY State faces massive losses due to coronavirus, governor says

ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - New York’s budget deadline is less than a week away at the same time the state is reeling from billions of dollars in revenue losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that the $2 trillion stimulus bill passed by the U.S. Senate Thursday does nothing to address revenue losses, although it does contain $5 billion to help the state in its fight against the coronavirus.

Calling the move “reckless,” the governor said “I believe what they did failed to meet the government need.”

Because the state’s economy is all but shut down, estimates place losses of revenue from sales and income tax at $10 billion to $15 billion.

“I was shocked that they failed to address the state and city need,” he said. “They just did nothing on the revenue loss.”

To finalize the state budget on time, Cuomo said officials would have to “adjust the budget through the year to reflect the actual revenue.”

The state will review revenues periodically over the year – perhaps quarterly – and adjust spending based on that.

That leaves school districts and local governments – and many other organizations – with no idea how much money they’ll have over the next year.

At his daily briefing in Albany Thursday morning, the governor said that no matter what the state does, it’s not possible to get the curve of COVID-19 illnesses low enough to avoid overcrowding at hospitals.

“Almost any scenario that is realistic is going to overwhelm the health care system,” he said.

Cuomo said officials are searching the state for new places to put hospital beds and increase capacity “any way we can.”

“We’re scouring dorms and hotels for emergency beds and that’s going well,” he said.

The biggest need, he said, is still intensive care beds that are equipped with ventilators.

“I didn’t know what they were two weeks ago,” he said. “I know too much about ventilators now.”

Besides the shortage of the machines, Cuomo said the biggest issue is how long a COVID-19 patient needs to be ventilated.

For other respiratory illnesses, it averages three or four days, he said. For COVID-19 patients, it can be anywhere from 11 to 20 days.

The governor said health officials are looking into splitting one ventilator between two patients.

“It’s not ideal, but we think it’s workable,” he said.

The state’s death toll due to the coronavirus now stands at 385. That’s out of more than 37,000 confirmed cases.

The state leads the nation in the number of cases. The next highest is adjacent New Jersey with about 4,400.

The next highest number of deaths is Washington with 130.

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