Gov. Cuomo on Ventilator Situation: 'We're OK, and We Have Some in Reserve'

Susan Jones | April 7, 2020 | 5:58am EDT
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds his daily press briefing on coronavirus on April 6, 2020.  (Photo: Screen capture)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds his daily press briefing on coronavirus on April 6, 2020. (Photo: Screen capture)

( - For days, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sounded urgent warnings about an anticipated shortage of ventilators in his state's hospitals.

On Thursday, April 2, Cuomo warned that "at the current burn rate," his state would run out of ventilators for coronavirus patients in six days. On Friday, Cuomo announced that he would commandeer ventilators from Upstate New York for hospitals in Manhattan and other hotspots.

But at a news conference on Monday, Cuomo was less alarmed. He announced that New York has enough ventilators -- or ventilator substitutes -- for current needs:

"We don't have anyone who says they need them now," Cuomo told the news conference.

He said hospitals are "using Plan B, C, D. We can't give everybody a ventilator for every situation. We have 9,000 BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machines, for example. We're using the BiPAP machines, we're using the other (splitter) machines."

Cuomo said the 802 ventilators he was distributing on Monday "represents the number that people say they need now."

Later on Monday, in an interview with MSNBC's Katy Tur, Cuomo said:

We've gotten very creative on how we use ventilators and what can be used as ventilators. There's a machine called a BiPAP machine, which is not technically considered a ventilator in the way we define it.

But you can use BiPAP machines. You can use ventilators that run a system that handles two patients. So we've gone to strategies like that, and right now we have ventilating capacity for every hospital.

We have a couple of hundred in reserve. We sent out 800 ventilators today --actual ventilators. So there is no hospital in downstate New York that needs ventilating capacity today.

As you heard on a previous report that you did, the - every hospital will say, we're OK for today, we're OK for the next couple of days. But beyond that we can't answer. And that's true for the entire system.

We are hoping -- hoping that we're seeing a flattening of the increase. And if the increase in cases is flattening, then where we are today, we think we can stretch and manage that need. God forbid the cases go up again, we're going to have a real problem.

But if they are flat - if the curve is flattening for the next two, three days, the entire system - we're OK, and we have some in reserve. But again that's only if the curve is flattening. If the curve continues to go up, we're going to have a different set of issues to deal with.

President Trump announced on Monday that "more than 8,000 ventilators have been sent from the national stockpile to our cities and states."

We are getting more than we ever bargained for. American industry is stepping up. Manufacturers are really going to town, and we have thousands of ventilators being built as we speak, and we have hundreds that are being sent to different locations, and we are ready to roll with almost 10,000 that we have in the federal stockpile.

When I say ready to roll too, I mean exactly what that states. We are wherever that monster goes, we are able to move with it, great flexibility -- we have tremendous flexibility, and we have people waiting, and they are ready, willing and able but waiting to bring them wherever it may be if they need it -- if they need it.

It is possible that they won't be needed, that we are fully stocked because numbers are coming in where because of what the American people are doing, we are having fewer hospital visits. I think that could be the case in New York. It could be the case in a few other states. And fewer beds, fewer hospital visits, mean fewer ventilators, so we will see whether or not our original projections were right.

But anyway I had a very good talk with both governors (New York and New Jersey) and I think they are very happy, extremely happy about what we are doing for them...

Trump also mentioned that California is sending 500 surplus ventilators "to be distributed to other locations."

At his news conference on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the number of coronavirus deaths in New York has been "effectively flat for two days," and the total number of hospital admissions is "down," suggesting a possible flattening of the curve.


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