March 23, 2020 By Allie Griffin
New York State will send hundreds of thousands of masks, gloves, gowns and face shields to New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today.
The incoming supplies will ensure hospital staff in New York City can adequately protect themselves– and patients–as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise. As of this morning, there were more than 20,000 cases with 157 deaths statewide, Cuomo said.
New York City reported 12,339 cases of coronavirus this morning, with 3,621 in Queens. Meanwhile, 99 New York City residents have died from the virus, according to New York City data released this morning.
New York City will get 169,880 N-95 masks, 430,850 surgical masks, 176,750 gloves, 72,561 gowns and 98,543 face shields, Cuomo said at a press conference today. However, a lot more will be needed in coming weeks, he added.
Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the City needed millions of personal protective equipment and medical supplies or lives would be unnecessarily lost. He said the City was two or three weeks from running out of supplies.
Cuomo said the influx of supplies will help make a difference, but they aren’t enough to last the whole pandemic.
“Today we can get masks to anyone who needs them and gowns,” Cuomo said, as he emphasized the word today. “I can’t promise you next week or the week thereafter.”
He called on President Donald Trump to make use of the Federal Defense Production Act and mandate private industry and factories to begin producing the much-needed supplies, as states are in bidding wars with each other for the coveted supplies.
“We need the federal government to use the Defense Production Act so that we can get the medical supplies we desperately need,” Cuomo said on Twitter. “We can’t just wait for companies to come forward with offers and hope they will. This is a national emergency.”
He noted that states are competing with one another for much needed items raising prices. He said Sunday that surgical masks that normally cost $.85 had been for sale at over $4 a few days ago.
He said the federal government should step in and acquire them and then just distribute them where the need is greatest.
The State is also working to increase the hospital system capacity and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin construction of four temporary hospitals — with a total of 1,000 beds — inside Manhattan’s Jacob K. Javits Center this week.
The state currently has 53,000 beds, but could need up to 110,000 beds if cases of COVID-19 continue to rise at the current pace, Cuomo said.
Cuomo will also create temporary hospitals at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury and Westchester Convention Center– each to have 250 beds. He has mandated existing hospitals to increase their capacity by at least 50 percent.
The state is also calling all registered nurses to enlist to help New York’s coronavirus response in order to increase staff.