‘Troubling and astronomical’ coronavirus cases increase urgency for hospital beds, New York Gov. Cuomo says


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announces plans to convert the Jacob Javits Center on Manhattans West Side into a field hospital as Coronavirus cases continue to rise on March 23, 2020 in New York.

Bryan R. Smith | AFP | Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a “troubling and astronomical” number of coronavirus cases have increased the urgency across the state for more hospital beds as the pace of new infections rises at a rapid clip.

“We’re not slowing it and it is accelerating on its own,” Cuomo said at a press conference Tuesday. He said the state is now projecting it will need more hospital beds and a lot sooner than previously thought. The state now estimates it will need 140,000 hospital beds, up from previous projections of 110,000. “That apex could be, they project, 14 to 21 days away.”

Cases soared across the state to 25,665 — ten times the number of cases in California, Cuomo said. 

“New York is the canary in the coal mine. New York is going first. We have the highest and fastest rate of infection,” he said, adding that what’s happening in New York will spread to California, Washington and other states from there. 

Cuomo said the state has purchased about 7,000 ventilators, but it needs at least 30,000 more. 

He called on President Donald Trump to use the Defense Protection Act to secure more medical equipment. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending the state 400 ventilators, Cuomo said.

“400 ventilators? I need 30,000 ventilators. You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?” Cuomo said.

New York is currently the hardest-hit state in the country, ahead of New Jersey, California, and Washington state.

The New York metro area, which includes New Jersey, New York City, and Long Island, has the highest “attack rate” in the country with nearly one in 1,000 people in the region contracting the virus — at least five times higher than the rest of the country. The attack rate is the portion of the population that gets infected.

“To all of my friends and colleagues in New York, this is the group that actually needs to social distance and self-isolate,” Dr. Deborah Birx, a physician and the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said at the press briefing. “Clearly, the virus had been circulating there for a number of weeks to have this level of penetrance into the general community.”

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates. 


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