New York scrambling for masks and ventilators as demand for both skyrockets

Governor Andrew Cuomo holds a press briefing on Coronavirus, explains working on increasing hospital capacity, building new beds, and increasing medical supplies. (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s chief of surgeries has his doubts about the ability of medical centers to support the number of coronavirus cases — if they continue on the upward trend — even despite the Cuomo administration announcing Saturday that 2 million masks were acquired.

Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the public Saturday and said his government has purchase about 6,000 ventilators increasing the capacity for intensive care of the state to about 9,000.

Meanwhile, on the front lines, the existing supplies are vanishing as more patients come in seeking help.

“This has been a very active day, during which the hard data has become alarming. I wish I could use a more comforting word,” said Dr. Craig R. Smith, chief of surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian, in an open letter circulated by WNBC’s Andrew Siff Saturday.

While COVID-19 positive tests increased from 37 to 59 in a single day, the number of people requiring ventilators increased from 10 to 12.

With peak volume in the offing anywhere from 22 to 32 days, Smith said NYP will need 700-934 intensive care unit beds and even the former estimate exceeds their needs.

Already scarce are N95 mask, deemed the high-watermark of quality due to the fabric’s ability to filter out the virus.

NYP is burning through 40,000 N95 masks per day. According to Smith, that number could increase to 70,000 before long. There are only about two days worth of masks available in reserve.

About 3 million N95s are used by the downstate region everyday, Smith said, and the entire nation uses 75 million.

Smith acknowledged that while the call has gone out for masks to be made, with designers such as Christian Siriano answering the call, those orders are still weeks out.

According to Cuomo, as of Saturday, New York was ineligible for $6 billion in federal aid through a bill passed in Washington D.C. and his administration is working to have the legislation amended.

“We need the federal delegation to fix that bill or New York state gets nothing. New York state has more coronavirus cases than any state in the United States of America, that we should not be included in the bill obviously makes no sense,” Cuomo said.

According to the governor, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin will be available from the FDA in about 10,000 doses from the FDA and approved by the Trump administration.

“As soon as we get those doses we’ll work with doctors, nurses and families on using those drugs and see where we get,” Cuomo said.

There are currently more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases in the state, with 45 deaths in New York City alone.