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Cuomo warns New York is "still on the way up the mountain" as virus cases top 30,000

Cuomo on surge of health care workers

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York state now tops 30,000 and "we're still on the way up the mountain," Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. "We have not turned the trajectory nor have we hit the apex," he said.

About 80% of all coronavirus cases in the state have self-resolved, according to Cuomo, and about 15% have required hospitalization. Of that 15%, about 3% need to be in an intensive care unit, or ICU. That group is predominantly made up of elderly people and those living with underlying illnesses or compromised immune systems, he said.

The state now projects a need for 140,000 hospital beds, but currently has 53,000. The governor also said they expect to need 40,000 ICU beds, but only had about 3,000 as of Wednesday. 

What differentiates an ICU bed from a regular hospital bed is its attachment to a ventilator, he said. And acquiring ventilators is the state's "single greatest challenge."

He said the state is not alone in the struggle and the federal government is also scrambling to find enough of them. "We have purchased everything that can be purchased," he said, before thanking President Trump for his "cooperation" in their ongoing search. 

Cuomo's tone toward the White House marked a shift from Tuesday, when he voiced his frustration over the federal government's disuse of the Defense Production Act — a law that allows the president to require companies to sign contracts or fill orders for products needed for the nation's defense — in order to rapidly manufacture more ventilators. 

New York now has about half the ventilators it needs, according to Cuomo. There are about 4,000 ventilators in the state's existing hospital system; New York has also purchased 7,000 of them and has received 4,000 from the federal government, but needs 30,000. 

Cuomo called meeting the 30,000 ventilator quota an "extraordinarily difficult task" and said it's something his team is working on with the White House.   

According the governor, the state has received enough protective equipment "for all the hospitals statewide that are dealing with (the outbreak)."

"Today no hospital, no nurse, no doctor, can say legitimately 'I don't have protective equipment,'" Cuomo said. "Right now, and for the foreseeable future, we have a supply. We have not yet secured a supply for three weeks from now, four weeks from now, five weeks from now, but we are still shopping."

The governor said the state has been working on a "surge health care force" and that 40,000 people have signed up to be part of the reserve.

N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo demands thousands of ICU beds and ventilators
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