Mayor seeks more ventilators to meet staggering COVID-19 demand in NYC

Wycoff Hospital workers remove bodies of people who have died of Covid-19. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)

More ventilators are required to meet an expected, “staggering demand” as more people sick with coronavirus are hospitalized with severe breathing issues, the mayor said Sunday afternoon.

Based on the number of people coming to area hospitals, Mayor Bill de Blasio believes the city will immediately need an additional 1,000 ventilators to treat the expected rise in breathing issues from the coronavirus in New York City. He estimated that an additional 15,000 ventilators will be necessary before the crisis abates.

New York City still has 135 available ventilators as of Sunday. De Blasio said the city’s hospitals would have an additional two or three days before the stockpile would be depleted.

Those who are put on ventilators are given a 15-20% chance of survival, according to Dr. Mitchell Katz of the NYC Health + H0spitals. The mayor said all efforts should still be made to save people.

De Blasio called for more medical personnel to assist with the rising patient load at area hospital, most operating well beyond their capacity.

In New York State, meanwhile, 122,031 people have tested positive for COVID-19, up from 113,704 on Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday morning. The tri-state total now stands at 165,211 cases. However, he said he believed the state was hitting an apex and might be poised for a decrease in the number of cases.

The state has seen 4,159 coronavirus-related deaths, up from 3,565 on Saturday, Cuomo said at a news conference. New York City has seen 67,551 of the total novel coronavirus cases, including 4,245 new ones, he said.

“Some patients are hospitalized for many weeks so we need to find 1,500 ventilators by Wednesday – we are the epicenter of the crisis,” de Blasio said. “The state has 2,800 in reserve and the federal government has 10,000 in the stockpile.”

De Blasio said hospitals were fighting to keep people alive, especially Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. To beef up the staffs of the city’s hospitals, the federal government is sending 1,000 medical workers. He said the city is seeking 1,000 nurses, 300 respiratory therapists and 150 doctors. 

The federal government added 325 medical personnel to the Javits Center this afternoon, with more personnel on the way.

In the meantime, 200-300 people are being intubated daily, and 1,500 ventilators will be required to last through next Sunday. To date, 2,865 ventilators have been put into service, along with 1780 BiPap machines, to keep patients breathing.

The mayor also thanked Governor Kate Brown of Oregon for offering 140 ventilators saying, “This was a great act of kindness [and] we will return the favor and then some.”

To take some pressure off public hospitals, the Hospital for Special Surgery and Memorial Sloan Kettering have agreed to accept non Covid-19 patients.