NEW YORK (TURKISH JOURNAL) – By Janet Ekstract – The coronavirus does not discriminate with regard to status, race or ethnic background and the battle to beat back COVID-19 is fiercer than ever. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reported in Friday’s press briefing with the National Guard in attendance that the increase in numbers of cases continues to rise. His plan is as he said: “Step one, flatten the curve. Step two, increase hospital capacity.”
Cuomo reiterated his most immediate plans for New York are to increase the capacity of beds as well as to build new hospitals and create medical space from dormitories, conference centers, hotels and other appropriate space. He reminded everyone: “There are intrusions on our life but what’s on the other side of this scale is literally saving lives.”
Regarding school closings, the governor reiterated he decided to close public schools because as he commented: “I believed it was safer to reduce the spread.” Cuomo added that school closures began on March 18 and will be closed through April 1 and that each school system had to come up with plans to continue functions they were already doing such as providing meals for kids, distance learning plans. He added that he will need to reassess how long schools will remain closed based on the virus spread figures.
As he commented: “I have to reassess because I believe the schools should remain closed when you look at where we are and the number of cases increasing, it makes sense.” He said school closures are statewide in New York.
The urgency is so great that Cuomo explained: “We are creating a stockpile of the medical equipment so we can deploy it to other hospitals in other regions of the state who need it.” Those items include N-95 masks, protective gowns, coveralls, ventilators and respirators. Cuomo emphasized that in contrast to normal time on a ventilator for other types of patients – coronavirus patients can need a ventilator for up to 20 days he said. The governor also said: “We need 140,000 beds, we have 53,000 beds. We need 40,000 ICU beds. When we started, we only had 3,000 ICU beds.” Cuomo stated that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Army Corps and the National Guard have been working to put up emergency hospitals as quickly as possible. He
further added: “We’re going to Plan B – we will seek to build another four emergency hospitals. We’ve been scouting sites for a few days with the Army Corps of Engineers. I’m asking the president today if he will authorize another four hospitals. I want one in every borough so everyone will be equally protected.” Cuomo said the locations scouted include Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Queens, The College of Staten Island. He said that would provide coverage throughout the downstate area.
When asked about New York’s request for 30,000 ventilators, Cuomo said the need is “based on fact, data and science.” As the governor said: “I don’t operate here on opinion. I operate on facts, on data.” He explained that research firms like McKinsey are making projections as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who are providing data as well as other organizations, Cuomo said. “We’re following the data and science and that’s what the data and the science says, which is why we need 30,000 ventilators,” Cuomo reiterated. Cuomo emphasized: “As these numbers increase, you’ll see hospitals reaching capacity and overcapacity, which is why I’m asking the president for another four thousand bed facilities.”
The governor said, “We’re looking at 21 days for a possible apex.” Cuomo added: “We’re doing things we’ve never done before.” He explained: “We are creating a stockpile of the medical equipment so we can deploy it to other hospitals in other regions of the state who need it.” Those include N-95 masks, protective gowns, coveralls, ventilators, respirators. Cuomo also informed everyone that he has made provisions for a 90-day leeway for renters in New York. He said that there can be no evictions for 90 days if a renter can’t meet the rental payment.
The governor praised FEMA, the Army Corps and the National Guard for all their assistance amid the coronavirus crisis. He shared his gratitude with them and especially the National Guard: “You are living a moment in history. This is a moment they’re going to talk about and write about. This is a moment that will change character and ten years from now you’ll be talking about today to your children or grandchildren and you will shed a tear because you will remember the lives lost and you’ll remember we lost loved ones. You’ll also be proud. You’ll be proud of what you did. You’ll be proud you showed up when other people played it safe. You showed up. You had the skill and professionalism to save lives and at the end of the day nobody can ask anything more of you.”
In addition, Cuomo further praised all three organizations and especially General Patrick Murphy, who he said has decades of experience dealing with disasters and said: “There is no one better.” He also congratulated the Army Corps of Engineers and remarked: “What they did here is top shelf. You are the best of us.” He told the National Guard that “what you did in this facility in one week, creating a hospital is really incredible.” Cuomo made his gratitude clear when he said: “I promise you, I won’t ask you to do anything I won’t do myself and I won’t ask you to go anywhere I won’t go myself.”
Cuomo summed it up this way: “This is a different beast we’re dealing with. This is an invisible beast, this is an insidious beast.” This is going to be weeks and weeks. It’s going to be a hard day and it’s going to be an ugly day and it’s going to be a sad day. It’s a rescue mission you’re on to save lives – and what’s even more cruel is this enemy doesn’t attack the strongest of us, it attacks the most vulnerable and that makes it worse because these are the people our instincts tell us we are supposed to protect.”
And on a hopeful note, the governor said: “I say we go out there today and kick coronavirus’s ass”