New York's virus outlook darkens, even as Trump pushes to reopen economy

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING:

"We have 25,000 cases."

Speaking from Manhattan's Javits Center, which is being transformed into a massive field hospital to handle the coronavirus crisis, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that infections in New York are soaring and could reach their peak in as soon as two weeks.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING:

"The rate of increase has gone up."

And the governor, whose state has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, made a plea to the federal government to step in and do more to help.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING:

"The federal government has to prioritize the resources. Look at where the problems are across this nations. California has 2,800 cases... New York has 25,000 cases. New York has 25,000 cases. It has 10 times the problem that California has... We need the federal help. And we need the federal help now."

Of particularly concern for Cuomo was the number of ventilators in New York, where he said the Trump administration had not sent nearly enough.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING:

"FEMA is sending us 400 ventilators. Four hundred ventilators? I need 30,000 ventilators. You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators. What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000 ventilators. You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators."

At the White House on Monday, Trump's coronavirus response coordinator acknowledged the scope of the crisis in New York City.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR, SAYING:

"The New York metro area of New Jersey, New York City and parts of Long Island have an attack rate close to 1 in 1,000... clearly the virus had been circulating there for a number of weeks to have this level of penetrants into the general community."

But Trump has floated the idea of reopening the economy soon, suggesting the response has been overblown.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING:

"You look at automobile accidents, which are far greater than any numbers we're talking about, that doesn't mean we're going to tell everybody no more driving of cars. So, we have to do things to get our country open."

But Cuomo – who has also said it's imperative to get the economy going again - said, for now, the risk isn't worth it.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING:

"My mother is not expendable. And your mother is not expendable. And our brothers and sisters are not expendable... and we're not going to put a dollar figure on human life."

Cuomo said the number of cases is doubling every three days in New York, outstripping earlier projections, and said tens of thousands more hospital beds are needed in New York than earlier thought.