Governor Cuomo Tells Feds. Enact Defense Production Act Now, Stop State Bidding-War for Supplies
During his daily briefing on the coronavirus epidemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo March 22 repeated his call for the federal government to immediately put into the action the Defense Production act and order companies to begin producing medical supplies.
The Democrat says he appreciates President Donald Trump invoking the act and praising private companies for changing over production from other products to items needed for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic but the private sector needs to be ordered to start producing masks, surgical gowns and respirators. He adds, the federal government also needs to be in charge of distributing those supplies to the areas where there is the biggest need instead of having states bidding against each other for available supplies.
Cuomo says surgical masks that normally cost $.85 had been for sale at over $4 a few days ago. March 22, the governor said the going rate was $7 per mask. Ventilators that would be a few thousand dollars now carry prices of $16,000-$40,000 as companies domestically and globally compete for orders.
New York needs 30,000 ventilators and, as of March 21, had identified 6,000 that were available. Cuomo says the federal government could get production going immediately and more quickly get equipment to the states that need it most, not the states with the highest offer.
Cuomo is also putting demands on hospitals as the numbers continue to show a climb in cases and indications that the number of patients needing critical care will outpace the number of available beds. The governor is requiring hospitals to submit a plan by Wednesday, to increase capacity by 50%.
The governor toured four sites downstate March 21 that could be used for temporary hospitals. If the federal government would grant it's approval, construction could start "tomorrow" on temporary and field hospitals at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, SUNY Stonybrook, Old Westbury and the Westchester Convention Center.
Cuomo says the federal government normally pays 75% of the FEMA assistance with the states picking up the remaining 25%. But he is asking the federal government to waive that 25% as he says he doesn't believe any state, including New York, has the money to pay that right now. During a 6 p.m. briefing at the White House, President Donald Trump announced that the full cost of the FEMA response with the deployment of the National Guard would, indeed, be covered in full.
On the issue of treatment for the virus, Cuomo says he shares optimism with President Trump for the trials of Zithromax and Hydrochloroquine. New York is to start a drug trial Tuesday, March 24, with 70,000 doses of cholorquine and 10,000 doses of Zithromax.
The governor reports the total number of cases of COVID-19 New York is 61,401, 15,915 new cases, 374 deaths with 114 of those fatalities new.
When talking about the vulnerable population that is most likely to succumb to the illness, the governor appeared visibly shaken as he mentioned his elderly mother, Matilda and his concerns for his family. Cuomo was equally emotional, but with anger and frustration after seeing crowds of people, especially young people, gathered in New York City Parks arch 21.
Cuomo said, "I don't know what I'm saying that people don't GET!", reiterating that 53% of cases of the coronavirus are in people age 18-49, who can spread it to people likely to die from the disease. He's told New York City officials to come up with a plan within 24-hours to decrease the density of social contact in the City.
The Executive Order issued March 20 mandating non-essential businesses keep 100% of their workforce at home will be in effect with the start of the new workweek.