Gov. Cuomo: Acquiring ventilators remains a top priority in fight against COVID-19

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Saturday stressed the need for the state to acquire thousands of additional ventilators at a media briefing where he demonstrated the challenges of alternative methods.

The governor operated a bag valve mask, which he said functions like a manual ventilator but requires someone to continuously squeeze the bag to generate air. He said relying on such an alternative would require the training of National Guard personnel to operate the masks 24 hours per day.

“Short answer is no thank you,” the governor said. “Let’s go back to finding the ventilators.”

Complicating matters, the governor said, is rising costs of ventilators up to $45,000 as demand and competition increases. He also said that ventilators are being used on average between 11 and 21 days, up from the three to four days they were needed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state needs about 30,000 ventilators, he said, adding that the state must build a stockpile before hitting its hospitalization apex in 14 to 21 days.

“You go to war with what you have not what you need … because it’s too late to do the preparations,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The ‘but’ is that until you’re at that point, you do everything you can.”

The governor said all hospitals across the state are reporting an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, but no one has what they might need long term, so the state must also continue to acquire those supplies as well.

Here are some more takeaways from Saturday’s briefing:

• The number of positive coronavirus tests in New York State has risen to 52,318, including 4,138 in Suffolk. There have been at least 728 deaths reported, the governor said.

• Hospitalization has increased to 7,328 COVID-19 patients across New York, including 1,755 in intensive care units.

• New York’s presidential primary has been pushed back from April 28 to June 23, a date previously designated for state and other local primaries.

• The governor is asking pharmacies across the state to begin delivering at no charge to the customer. He said he is currently having conversations with major chains to begin implementation.

“There are long lines at pharmacies right now,” he said. “That’s no good.”