Coronavirus News: New York cases skyrocket; Cuomo warns of ‘astronomical’ need

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NEW YORK (WABC) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sounded his most dire warning yet about the coronavirus pandemic, saying the infection rate is accelerating and the state could be as close as two weeks away from an overwhelming health crisis.

“We were looking at a freight train moving across the country. We’re now looking at a bullet train. We haven’t flattened the curve and the curve is actually increasing,” Cuomo said.

The toll grows grimmer by the day: New York City, the epicenter of the national crisis, alone accounts for almost 15,000 cases of over 25,000 statewide, and 210 people have died in the state (131 in NYC as of this morning).

Cuomo said the new sickness projections suggests that the number of hospital beds needed could be as high as 140,000. The previous projection was 110,000, and the greatest need remains ventilators, which he urged the federal government to secure, citing a stockpile that he says needs to be transferred to New York immediately, and then to other places around the nation as the crisis spreads elsewhere.

He offered a stinging assessment of the federal government’s responsiveness to the urgent need for ventilators,

He said he told Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar: “Look at the first word in the title of the agency you run. It is health. Your first priority is health. You have 20,000 ventilators in the stockpile. Release the ventilators to New York. How can we be in a situation where you can have New Yorkers possibly dying because they can’t get a ventilator, but a federal agency saying I’m going to leave the ventilators in the stockpile? I mean, have we really come to that point,” asked the governor.

The state anticipates an astonishing 40,000 people in intensive care units in just two to three weeks. Officials as recently as last week thought they had more time, with the zenith of the crisis in early May.

“We have been working around the clock, scouring the globe, we’ve procured about 7,000 ventilators. We need at a minimum an additional 30,000 ventilators. You cannot buy them, you cannot find them. Every state is trying to get them,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo says he’s calling all health care professionals and retirees to enlist to help with coronavirus outbreak.

“We are not slowing it. And it is accelerating on its own,” the governor said.

Cuomo also expressed alarm at suggestions by President Donald Trump that efforts would soon begin to revive the economy and open the country.

Cuomo suggested an approach that would slowly introduce younger people who have recovered or self-resolved from coronavirus to lead the vanguard in the return to the workforce.

Key to this will be a widespread application of an antibody test to determine whether individuals were exposed to coronavirus.

“No American is going to say, ‘accelerate the economy at the cost of a human life,'” Cuomo said.

Later in an interview with ABC News, Cuomo warned against the rush to get America back to work, saying any future plans from the White House need to be more thoughtful and compassionate.

“We have to be smarter about it,” he said. “You can’t sacrifice human life to get the stock market up. I don’t, that is a repugnant concept…There is no dollar figure on human life in this country, and there never should be.”

Cuomo acknowledged some restrictions could be eased, but he said does not want to downplay the mortality rate. In his briefing Monday, President Donald Trump cited the 1% mortality rate for COVID-19 in America saying, it’s lower than they first feared.

“There are people who can go back to work,” Cuomo said. “Younger people can go. People who are resolved can go back to work. But don’t ask the American people to choose and say, well, the people who are going to pass away from this virus, they were old anyway. They were vulnerable anyway. We’re just going to leave them aside.”

President Trump later said he wants the U.S. back open by Easter.

Cuomo also reiterated that he believes essential supplies including ventilators could run out in two weeks if they’re not re-stocked and the virus keeps spreading.

“Maximum, we have about 14,000 ventilators,” he said. “We would need about 40,000 ventilators in about 14 days.”

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