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NY Continues Search for Ventilators; Trump Questions Call for 30,000

By Margaret Besheer March 27, 2020

New York's governor said Friday that he was continuing to shop "around the globe" to purchase 30,000 ventilators, despite U.S. President Donald Trump's statement that he thought the figure was overblown.

"Maybe you don't need 30,000. Well, I don't have a crystal ball," Andrew Cuomo said at his daily news conference. "Everybody's entitled to their own opinion. But I don't operate here on opinion. I operate on facts, and on data, and on numbers and on projections."

Trump questions numbers

In a phone interview with Fox News late Thursday, Trump appeared to dismiss the New York governor's effort to acquire the breathing machines for patients seriously sickened with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

"I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators," Trump said. "You know, you go into major hospitals sometimes and they'll have two ventilators, and now all of a sudden they're saying, 'Can we order 30,000 ventilators?' "

New York state has 19.5 million residents. On Friday, there were nearly 45,000 confirmed cases of the respiratory virus, more by far than in any other state. Nearly 6,500 people were ill enough to be in the state's hospitals, and nearly 1,600 were in intensive care unit beds, which are equipped with ventilators.

Death toll on the rise

Friday was the second consecutive day that the state's death toll exceeded 100. In all, 519 New Yorkers have succumbed to the virus.

Cuomo said that projections from experts, including a major New York hospital and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, predict the peak in cases, which is expected in his state in about three weeks, could see 140,000 people hospitalized and 40,000 of them requiring breathing machines.

"Those are numbers – not I feel, I think, I believe, I want to believe," the governor said. "Make the decisions based on the data and the science. And we are following the data and the science, and that's what the data and the science say."

Help is on the way

The state is continuing to ramp up its hospital capacity, currently working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Guard to build four field hospitals. Cuomo said he would ask Trump to approve four additional field hospitals for New York to more evenly distribute health care coverage.

New York state is also looking at converting hotel rooms and university dormitories into care facilities. On Monday, the U.S. naval hospital ship Comfort will arrive in New York Harbor. The ship has 1,000 beds as well as 12 operating rooms and is likely to take on noncoronavirus cases to relieve the burden on overwhelmed hospitals.

"We are now doing the impossible," Cuomo said.

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