ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday called on President Donald Trump to authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to set up temporary hospitals at several locations across New York state.
Those locations include SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Westbury, Westchester County Center, and the Javits Center.
During his daily briefing, the president said he has approved of the major disaster declarations in New York and Washington, adding four large medical stations with 1,000 beds each are going to be built in the Empire State. It wasn’t immediately known where the stations will be built.
Earlier, Cuomo stressed the importance of the temporary hospitals.
“I’ve met with the Army Corps. They’ve reviewed these sites. I approve it. I approve it on behalf of the state of New York. And now we just have to get it done, and get it done quickly,” Cuomo said. “These temporary hospitals are helpful, but they don’t bring supplies and they don’t bring staff. And that compounds our problem of not having enough medical supplies and frankly compounds our problem of not having enough medical staff because we’re trying to increase capacity in our existing hospitals.”
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There are currently 53,000 hospital beds in New York.
“Right now, the curve suggests we could need 110,000 hospital beds, and that is an obvious problem,” Cuomo said.
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The locations chosen allow for indoor facilities and have dorms which could house health care staff.
“From my point of view, construction could start tomorrow,” Cuomo said. “There is no red tape on the side of New York.”
Cuomo also called on FEMA to erect four federal hospitals at the Javits Center. The FEMA hospitals come with 250 beds and medical personnel and supplies. That’s different from what the Army Corps of Engineers might construct.
“Cut to the chase. Get the Army Corps of Engineers moving. Get FEMA moving. Let’s get those buildings up. Let’s have them in place before that trajectory hits its apex. Time matters. Minutes count. And this is literally a matter of life and death. We get the facilities up, we get the supplies, we will save lives. If we don’t, we will lose lives,” Cuomo said.
There are more than 15,000 cases of coronavirus in New York State as of Sunday, Cuomo said.
Cuomo said New York state has secured 70,000 doses of Hydroxychloroquine and 10,000 doses of Zithromax and will implement a trial with those drugs, starting Tuesday.
“We are all optimistic that it could work,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo wants the FDA to approve a test that could detect if somebody had already been exposed to coronavirus and self-resolved.
“You can test and find the antibody that the body created to fight the virus,” Cuomo said. “If you have that antibody, it means you had the virus and you resolved it. Why do you want to know that? Because I want to know who had it, who has the antibody, which means they most probably will not get it again and that can help us get our medical staff back to work faster.”
Cuomo said the federal government should now nationalize medical supply acquisition, because the various states can’t manage it.
They are in competition with one another, driving up prices for everybody, and the states with greatest need aren’t getting the help they need.
“Price gouging is a tremendous problem and it’s only getting worse. There are masks that we were paying 85 cents for, we’re now paying $7. Why? Because I’m competing against every other state, and in some cases, against other countries around the world. Ventilators, which are the most precious piece of equipment for this situation, they range in price from $16,000-$40,000 each, and New York state needs 30,000 ventilators. This is just an impossible situation to manage. If we don’t get the equipment, we can lose lives that we can otherwise save if we had the right equipment,” Cuomo said.
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Cuomo called on the federal government to use the Defense Production Act to order companies to produce key medical equipment, like masks, gowns, and ventilators. He said it would better organize supply and distribution of the equipment and would lower costs.
Cuomo said hospitals are already encountering shortages of key supplies.
“They need these materials now,” Cuomo said.
All elective, non-critical surgeries must be postponed as of Wednesday.
Cuomo took aim at young people who may think they can’t get COVID-19.
“Young people can get the coronavirus. They’re wrong when they say they can’t get it. They can get it. 18- to 49-year-olds represent 53% of the total cases in New York. This is not China. This is not South Korea. On the theory that ‘Well, I’m an American youth, and therefore I have a superior immune system than China or South Korea.’ No, that theory is not correct. In New York, 53% of the cases, 18- to 49-years old.”
Cuomo said New Yorkers need to prepare for a long battle against the virus.
“This is not a short-term situation. This is not a long weekend. This is not a week. The timeline, nobody can tell you, it depends on how we handle it,” Cuomo said. He estimated 40-80% of the population will eventually get the virus.
“It is going to be four months, six months, nine months. You look at China, once they really changed the trajectory, which we have not done yet — eight months. We’re in that range. Nobody has a crystal ball, nobody can tell you,” Cuomo said. “No one can tell you… but it is in that range, so start to plan accordingly.”
All essential services will be maintained during this challenge, Cuomo said.
“I do believe that whatever this is, four months, six months, nine months, we are going to be the better for it,” he said. “Dealing with hardship actually makes you stronger.”
Cuomo said it’s important to keep perspective.
“Life is not about avoiding challenges. Challenges are going to come your way. Life is going to knock you on your rear end at one point. Something will happen. And then life becomes about overcoming those challenges. That’s what life is about. And that’s what this country is about. America is America because we overcome adversity and challenges. That’s how we were born. That’s what we’ve done all our life. We overcome challenges, and this is a period of challenge for this generation. And that’s what has always made America great, and that’s what’s going to make this generation great. I believe that to the bottom of my soul. We’re going to overcome this, and America will be the greater for it. And my hope is New York is going to lead the way forward, and together, we will,” Cuomo said.