Cuomo: New York could exhaust ventilator stockpile in days

"We have about six days of ventilators in our stockpile"

WBEN Newsroom
April 02, 2020 - 2:08 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo

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NEW YORK (WBEN/AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Thursday that the state's supply of breathing machines could be exhausted in six days if the number of people made critically ill by the coronavirus outbreak continues at its current rate. The number of New Yorkers killed by the virus soared again, to 2,373. A majority of the fatalities have been in New York City, but an increasing number of deaths are happening in the suburbs and elsewhere in the state.

The latest coronavirus developments in New York:

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VENTILATORS RUNNING LOW

Cuomo said New York could be six days away from exhausting its supply of ventilators as the statewide death count jumped by more than 400 in 24 hours.

The breathing machines have become the crucial piece of equipment sought by state and city officials as COVID-19-related hospitalizations spike.

The state is stockpiling ventilators and just released 400 to New York City and another 200 to the surrounding suburbs. But the governor foresaw a problem if the rate of demand keeps up.

“At the current burn rate, we have about six days of ventilators in our stockpile,” the governor said at a news briefing at the state Capitol.

If supplies run short, the state is ready to use anesthesia and BiPAP machines as well as using more than one patient on a single ventilator.

More than 92,000 state residents have tested positive for COVID-19. The true number of people sickened by the virus is likely much higher because officials have been rationing tests and encouraging all but the most seriously ill people not to seek treatment and instead ride it out at home.

Deaths and hospitalizations in New York continue to increase at an alarming pace as the outbreak moves closer to its projected peak this month. There were 432 deaths reported in the last 24 hours.

There were 13,383 people hospitalized statewide, with 3,396 in intensive care.

Most people who get the virus experience mild or moderate symptoms, including fever and cough. Others, though, develop pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.

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NUMBERS SHOW DISPARATE IMPACT

The coronavirus hasn't spared any part of New York City, but new data shows that a few poorer neighborhoods with crowded housing conditions in Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn are getting hit harder than wealthy, mostly white parts of Manhattan.

People living in one Queens zip code just south of LaGuardia Airport were roughly four times as likely to have tested positive as people in the gentrified section of Brooklyn that Mayor Bill de Blasio calls home.

City health officials say it could be that families living in close quarters because of poverty may have a hard time practicing social distancing.

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VETERINARIANS ANSWERING THE CALL

Veterinarians in New York City are answering the call to give up their ventilators to help fight the coronavirus in humans.

With city hospitals facing a ventilator shortage as coronavirus cases multiply, De Blasio on Tuesday urged vets, plastic surgeons and others who might have the potentially life-saving equipment to lend it for the duration of the crisis.

The New York Post reports the request is forcing some vets to prioritize human life over the animals they care for.

“There’s usually a distinct line between veterinary medicine and human medicine and there’s no crossover,” Brett Levitzke, the chief medical officer at Veterinary Emergency & Referral Group, told the newspaper. “That’s what makes the time we’re in so unprecedented.”

A representative for Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners, which operates animal hospitals in Manhattan and Brooklyn, said the organization donated seven ventilators to New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

But Levitzke’s practice has only one ventilator, and the decision to give it up is not one he makes lightly. Still, he said, “it’s just the right thing to do.”

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