ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo says hospitals that aren’t using their ventilators and other equipment to battle the coronavirus right now will have to send them to places that are.
“There are hospitals that have ventilators, there are hospitals that have PPE equipment, there are private-sector companies that have PPE equipment that they are not using that we are going to need to redeploy to the places and the hospitals where we need them," he said Friday during his daily coronavirus briefing.
Because of the need for ventilators and other supplies, Cuomo said he is issuing an executive order Friday that allows the state to take the equipment it needs from businesses and organizations that aren’t using them -- most of them upstate -- to fight the coronavirus.
“I understand that even if they’re not using them, they’re reluctant to see them go out the door,” Cuomo said.
“But I don’t have an option,” he said, “and I’m not going to get into a situation where we are running out of ventilators and we have people dying because there are no ventilators, but there are hospitals in other parts of the state that have ventilators that they’re not using.”
Those institutions, he said, will have their equipment returned or they’ll be reimbursed.
The governor said the National Guard will be deployed to pick up and redistribute the ventilators and other equipment.
Cuomo also said that a temporary 2,500-bed temporary hospital at a New York City conference center will be re-purposed to handle COVID-19 patients.
Originally, he said, the beds at the Javits Center were for non-COVID patients.
“As it turns out, we don’t have non-COVID people in our hospitals,” he said, “so we wanted to convert Javits from non-COVID to COVID.”
Adding those 2,500 beds is “a very big deal,” he said.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state has surpassed 102,000, Cuomo said, and the number of deaths topped 2,900.
That’s about 10,000 more cases and 600 more deaths that the governor reported on Thursday.
New York has about four times the number of confirmed cases than New Jersey, which is the next highest. Behind that are California and Michigan with more than 10,000 cases apiece.
The lack of resources is why states can’t handle the outbreak on their own, Cuomo said, and the federal government doesn’t have the resources to help all the states at once.
The best approach, he said, is to deploy the available resources to the area that needs them most. New York, he said, has the greatest need right now.
Then, he said, officials will take the personnel, equipment, and experience the state gained during its crisis “and we will go to any community that needs help.”
Friday afternoon, Senior Advisor to the Governor Rich Azzopardi issued the following statement:
"In addressing the coronavirus pandemic, it is essential that we all work together. While the pandemic is primarily in downstate New York now - it is projected to peak and reduce in downstate and the increase in upstate. It is essential that we all help each other and the Governor is asking upstate hospitals to loan 20 percent of their unused ventilators to struggling downstate hospitals.
"Ventilators literally save lives. They will be returned or reimbursed to those hospitals.
"Moreover, when the pandemic wave hits upstate New York, the Governor will ask downstate hospitals for similar help.
“We are not upstate or downstate we are one state and we act that way.”