Mayor: Essential medical supplies in NYC could run out in a week without federal help

A medical worker wearing a protective mask and suit treats patients suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in an intensive care unit at the Oglio Po hospital in Cremona, Italy March 19, 2020. (REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo)

The battle for federal support continues as Mayor Bill de Blasio pressed President Trump again Monday morning to deliver desperately needed ventilators, masks, and other hospital supplies to ensure that no lives are needlessly lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

“If we don’t get a supply of ventilators quickly, our public hospital system, literally after about a week or so, we will not have enough ventilators to keep people alive who could live through this crisis,” de Blasio told CNN’s John Berman.

De Blasio finally spoke with President Trump and Vice President Pence late Sunday evening about the city’s medical capacity and limited medical personnel stating that he wanted to see “real material support” for the people of New York City. He asked for millions of masks, gowns and gloves. 

As of 10 a.m. on Monday, March 23, New York City had 12,339 positive coronavirus cases. Queens had the most of the five boroughs with 3,621, followed closely by Brooklyn which has 3,494 confirmed cases of the virus. There are 2,572 coronavirus cases in Manhattan, 1,829 in the Bronx and 817 in Staten Island, according to City Hall. 

There is still no update on the number of deaths that have occurred due complications with the virus. As of 6 p.m. March 22, City Hall reported the coronavirus death toll was 99, and that 1,800 people had been hospitalized since the virus first spread to the city, with at least 450 of those people intensive care units. 

Also on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo also urged the federal government to “step in and step up” by using the Federal Defense Procurement Act (DPA), which allows the president to order private domestic manufacturers to make goods for the country in a time of crisis.

On March 18, President Trump signed an executive order invoking the DPA but he has yet to do anything with that power. 

Later on Monday, March 23, Cuomo signed an executive order mandating that hospitals increase their capacity by 50%. He then traveled to Manhattan’s Javits Center, which is currently being revamped into a 1,000-bed temporary hospital by FEMA. The Army Corps of Engineers has selected other sites in downstate New York to turn into temporary hospitals, increasing hospital capacity by 4,000 beds. 

According to Cuomo, the federal government is sending 339,760 N-95 masks, 861,700 surgical masks, 353,300 gloves, 145,122 gowns and 197,085 face shields to New York State.

The governor also announced on Monday that three former Secretaries to the Governor — Steve Cohen, Bill Mulrow and Larry Schwartz — are joining the state’s COVID-19 Task Force. Mulrow and Cohen will be tasked with developing a NYS Forward Plan – a strategy to restart the economy following the NYS on Pause executive order. Schwartz is tasked with helping the State acquire healthcare equipment and supplies and increasing New York’s hospital surge capacity.

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