Report: Cuomo knew about New York’s ventilator shortage years ago

With his straight-talking demeanor, Andrew Cuomo is getting plenty of praise for his handling of New York’s coronavirus outbreak.

The Democrat governor’s candid briefings have won him glowing press, and there is even speculation that he may challenge Donald Trump in November. But according to a report from Breitbart, years before he was playing the crisis hero, Cuomo was warned about a shortage of ventilators in his state — a shortage that he is now trying to blame on President Trump. 

New York was warned

Cuomo had routinely assailed Trump as a poor leader before the coronavirus outbreak, and now that the governor has been given an opportunity to one-up the president, the media has been pumping out gauzy write-ups about his crisis management. The New York Times, in a typical puff piece, said that Cuomo is “the politician of the moment” and “has emerged as an authoritative voice in the crisis.”

It’s obvious that Cuomo sees some kind of opportunity. While forced to work with Trump, the Democrat has peppered his unusual recent praise of the president with blame for a lack of national coordination. The governor teed up a fresh clash on Tuesday, as he warned that up to 26,000 New Yorkers would die if Trump does not invoke the full extent of his powers to send thousands of ventilators to New York.

“You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators,” Cuomo said, according to Politico.

Back in 2015, however, a state task force warned that New York would be short 16,000 ventilators in the case of a severe pandemic, Breitbart reported Thursday. Earlier in the week, Trump pointed to a New York Post column by former lieutenant governor of New York Betsy McCaughey that cites the task force to accuse Cuomo of failing to prepare, according to the Post.

Although the state officials did not recommend buying thousands more ventilators — they cited a lack of hospital personnel to operate them — the shortage was evident, and they set up a system for rationing supplies instead, ABC News reported. Cuomo, in response, said:

There is no state in the United States that bought ventilators for the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. The federal government did not buy ventilators for the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. Nobody in the world bought ventilators in preparation for a 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

Where was Cuomo?

Of course, nobody saw this pandemic coming, but that’s the whole point of being prepared — and Cuomo is the governor of a state, New York no less. Cuomo didn’t need to meekly heed the advice of public health officials, who insisted on rationing; now that the nightmare scenario has materialized, it’s suddenly dawned on him that he needs another 30,000 ventilators, like, yesterday.

President Trump said Wednesday that he will send another 4,000 ventilators to the Empire State and called the rumors that he doesn’t like Cuomo “Fake News,” though he has consistently said that states have a responsibility to prepare their own medical supplies and urged private businesses to step up.

Trump has also said that following the same guidelines for every state makes no sense, given the differences in severity, but Cuomo has called on the federal government to apply blanket policies for the whole country. “Let the federal government say these are the guidelines,” Cuomo said in mid-March, according to Breitbart. “Here are the guidelines on schools. Here are the guidelines on businesses. Here are the guidelines on travel. Rather than having a scramble of every local government, state government, trying to figure it out on its own. It makes no sense.”

Flashback: Cuomo more worried about flu

With well over 40,000 cases of COVID-19, New York state is without a doubt the epicenter of the American outbreak. Back in February, though, Governor Cuomo was urging New Yorkers to worry more about the flu than the coronavirus.

“We went through this before: Zika virus, Ebola, et cetera. But let’s have some connection to the reality of the situation, and as the doctor said, catching the flu right now is a much greater risk than anything that has anything to do with coronavirus,” Cuomo said, according to CBS 6 in Albany.

Cuomo has also acknowledged that the state’s high number of infections may have something to do with the state’s attitude of “welcome” to people all over the world, saying, according to Breitbart, “We have people coming here… We have people who came here from China, who came here from Italy, who came here from all across the globe.” Gee, no kidding?

Does Andrew Cuomo know what a state government is for?

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