Though he’s admitted that New York has stockpiles of unused ventilators sitting around in storage, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is standing by his demands for President Donald Trump to send more to the state.
The two men continued their feud this week over who is responsible for a shortage in desperately needed ventilators to keep gravely ill coronavirus patients alive. Trump has called out Cuomo for complaining about not getting more ventilators from the federal government while stockpiling unused ventilators.
Cuomo pushed back, saying that the state needs to stockpile to prepare for the peak, the New York Post reported. “We’re creating a stockpile,” Cuomo said Monday. “For someone to say, ‘Well, the warehouse has equipment in it, you should be using that equipment today,’ that defies the basic concept of planning.”
Cuomo: Yes, New York is stockpiling ventilators
Governor Cuomo has alternated between criticizing Trump for a failure of leadership and praising the president, as the two men continue to tangle over a shortage of critical medical supplies. Cuomo blamed Trump for jeopardizing the lives of up to 26,000 New Yorkers last week, prompting Trump to respond that ventilators had been left sitting in New Jersey warehouses.
“Yes they’re in a stockpile because that’s where they’re supposed to be because we don’t need them yet. We need them for the apex. The apex isn’t here so we’re gathering them in the stockpile so when we need them they will be there,” Cuomo said at a Friday press conference.
Trump had previously expressed doubt that New York would need 30,000 ventilators, but he has since pushed Ford and GM to produce more of them while touting his administration’s efforts to supply thousands more to the Empire State. The president hinted Monday that he may send supplies directly to hospitals, since Cuomo was apparently not distributing them, the New York Post reported.
“I’m saying go directly, send it directly where they need it. Don’t bring it into our factories, our plants, bring it in directly into the site, the hospital or wherever it’s going, and that’s for ventilators and other things,” Trump said.
Feuding amid crisis
Cuomo’s admission appears to punch another hole in his recent efforts to blame Trump for the shortage, an attempt that had already been undermined by a resurfaced 2015 public health task force report that warned Cuomo about a lack of some 16,000 ventilators in case of a severe pandemic. Although Cuomo was not advised to buy more ventilators, Trump and others cited the report to slam Cuomo for failing to prepare.
President Trump has said that governors need to take more responsibility for managing the coronavirus outbreak in their states, and in turn, Cuomo and other governors have largely blamed Trump, insisting that the president needs to use federal power more drastically to help fight the pandemic. Trump and Cuomo got into another war of words this weekend when Trump floated, then backed off, a proposal to quarantine the New York metropolitan tri-state area.
Cuomo has also balked at a claim from Trump this weekend that hospitals in his state may be hoarding supplies. “If he wants to make an accusation, then let him make an accusation,” he said.
New York creates temporary hospitals
New York state, and New York City in particular, is now the epicenter of the American outbreak. The concentration of infections there has prompted a backlash against fleeing New Yorkers in states like Rhode Island, where Governor Gina Raimondo was forced to revise an executive order targeting drivers with New York license plates after Cuomo threatened to sue her state.
Despite the political back-and-forth, New York is getting help. The military has set up temporary hospitals in New York’s massive Javits Center and Central Park, and a Navy hospital ship equipped with 1,000 beds arrived in New York harbor on Monday.