At least China is taking New York’s ventilator shortage seriously, even if President Donald Trump won’t.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in a Saturday press conference that Chinese officials are facilitating a donation of 1,000 ventilators scheduled to be delivered at John F. Kennedy International Airport before the day’s end.
“We finally got some good news today,” Cuomo said in a tweet thanking Ambassador Huang Ping, the counsel general of China’s New York consulate, as well as Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai for their help in securing the desperately needed machines. At Saturday’s press conference, he called the donation a “big deal” that promises “to make a significant difference for us.”
State officials in Oregon also volunteered to send 140 ventilators, he continued, thanking Oregon Governor Kate Brown.
New York, the epicenter of America’s novel coronavirus outbreak, has seen its death toll double to more than 3,500 in recent days while its number of confirmed cases has surpassed 102,000—a total that rivals that of some of the hardest-hit European countries like Spain and Italy.
Despite this, Trump has continually downplayed reports of the state’s ventilator shortage, going so far as to baselessly accuse hospitals of hoarding the potentially life-saving machines. In reality, Cuomo warned on Thursday that New York could run out of ventilators in just six days based on the rate it’s currently burning through its emergency stockpile to treat patients with covid-19, the potentially deadly respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The situation there has become so dire that, earlier this week, New York officials gave hospitals the green light for “ventilator sharing,” a controversial practice that several facilities had already begun to employ out of desperation. This method involves using existing emergency room equipment to add additional ports to a single machine so that it can deliver oxygen to multiple patients concurrently, as demonstrated in a widely circulated video from Dr. Charlene Babcock, an emergency medical physician at Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit, Michigan.
“It’s suboptimal, but the other option is death,” Dr. Lorenzo Paladino, an associate professor at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, said of the practice in a recent New York Times report.
On Friday, Cuomo also announced plans to deploy the National Guard to seize idle ventilators from institutions in upstate New York and redistribute them to hospitals in New York City—one of the hardest-hit areas.
“We need 30,000 ventilators. We have 11,000,” the governor recently tweeted. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided 400 last month, which was followed by another donation of 4,000 from the federal stockpile last week.
Trump has publically scoffed at these estimates, dismissing them as inflated without providing evidence in a Thursday interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
“I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be. I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” he said. “You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now, all of a sudden, they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”
While the nation does have a federal emergency stockpile of medical equipment, Trump has said it’s not for “complainers”—i.e. states that have been less than enthused with the government’s bungled response to the outbreak. The president’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, underlined this bafflingly backward ideology yesterday when he characterized these resources as “our stockpile” and not “states’ stockpiles, that they can then use.”
Meanwhile, thousands are dying in New York and other states because the U.S. government has turned a global pandemic into a game of keepsies.