Cuomo Says N.Y. Must Pool Resources; Death Toll Exceeds 1,500

Christian Berthelsen
Cuomo Says N.Y. Must Pool Resources; Death Toll Exceeds 1,500

(Bloomberg) -- New York State reported more than 9,000 new coronavirus infections Tuesday and more than 300 new deaths as Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a statewide sharing of health-care resources to prepare for the outbreak’s peak in the coming weeks.

The new fatalities pushed New York’s overall toll to above 1,500, or roughly half of all U.S. deaths from the pandemic.

Cuomo, in a daily briefing Tuesday on the outbreak, said various models the state is relying on show the apex of cases could be anywhere from one to three weeks away.

After a meeting with public health officials and hospital executives on Monday, Cuomo said he was putting in place a statewide system to be managed by the Department of Health that will coordinate the sharing of staff, equipment and hospital space among all 170 of New York’s hospitals.

Cuomo said this would even out the burden between hardest-hit downstate public hospitals and private ones with more resources or facilities in remote locations that haven’t yet been overwhelmed by the virus.

“You almost have to shock the system into saying, ‘OK, we’re really going to operate as one,” he said.

Cuomo said he would ask upstate hospitals to send staff downstate to help share the work, before resorting to sending sick downstate patients to beds upstate.

“They need relief,” he said of metro-area medical workers who have endured long shifts day after day, some of them reluctant to go home out of fear of inflecting their families. “They are physically exhausted and they are emotionally exhausted.”

Of the 76,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in New York State, 11,000 are hospitalized and 2,700 are in intensive care. State officials are watching the number of the most serious cases closely, because it has limited space available to treat them. Before the outbreak, the city had about 3,000 intensive-care beds, though it has been stockpiling ventilators and making space for more.

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Cuomo said that New York has ordered 17,000 more ventilators from China and anticipates receiving 2,500 of them in the next two weeks.

While the number of those merely hospitalized is still well below the state’s existing bed capacity, Cuomo said the state expects it will ultimately need another 20,000 to 40,000 beds to handle patients at the peak of the crisis.

As part of his cooperation plan, Cuomo said the state is also launching a portal Tuesday to coordinate the allocation of 78,000 medical workers who have volunteered to help out, matching their expertise and skill level to facilities with those specific needs, after checking their medical licenses and disciplinary records.

As Cuomo was giving his remarks, CNN announced that Chris Cuomo, a CNN anchor and the governor’s brother, had tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The governor has given regular interviews to his brother since the outbreak began, often tinged with brotherly ribbing.

On Chris Cuomo’s condition, the governor said: “He is going to be fine. He’s young, in good shape, strong -- not as strong as he thinks -- but he will be fine.”

More: A Map of New York City Hospital Beds as Coronavirus Cases Surge

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