MANHATTAN (CN) — Speaking fiercely from the site of what will soon be a makeshift field hospital to treat coronavirus patients in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a dire warning Tuesday.
With cases in the state doubling every three days and expected to peak within two to three weeks, there is little time to acquire the equipment needed to treat the infected.
The Javits Convention Center in midtown Manhattan, which usually plays host to Comic-Con and the New York International Auto Show, will become four 250-bed field hospitals in the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. Cuomo said an additional 1,000 beds can still be added.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency are on the project.
Cuomo, who for weeks has called for more federal aid in the state, was fired up there this morning, his tone matching the urgency of New York’s situation. The state has at least 25,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases as of Tuesday.
“FEMA says, ‘We’re sending 400 ventilators,’” Cuomo snapped Tuesday. “Really? What am I going to do with 400 ventilators, when I need 30,000? You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators.”
Pleading with President Donald Trump to invoke the powers of the Defense Production Act so that manufacturers can be compelled to meet New York’s growing need, Cuomo emphasized that the state so far has gathered a mere 7,000 ventilators.
The state also needs 140,000 additional hospital beds, including 40,000 ICU beds with ventilators, he said. Cuomo promised to send supplies and health care workers to other states as the virus causes outbreaks elsewhere in the country, but said New York currently has the greatest need — 10 times more cases than any other state.
“My mother is not expendable,” he said. “And your mother is not expendable. And our brothers and sisters are not expendable. We’re not going to accept a premise that human life is disposable. We’re not going to put a dollar figure on human life. First order of business is save lives, period. Whatever it costs.”
Cuomo had previously said New York’s cases would peak in 45 days, around the end of April or beginning of May, but the virus has spread faster than expected.
“We were looking at a freight train coming across the country,” Cuomo warned. “We’re now looking at a bullet train.”