Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave an update on the state of the coronavirus in New York earlier today and to say his tone was dire would be underselling it a bit. Cuomo said forecasters had previously told him the virus was coming at the country like a freight train, now they are telling him it’s a bullet train with New York as the first stop:
“The rate of new infections is doubling about every three days,” Cuomo said. He added, “We’re not slowing it and it is accelerating on its own.”
“One of the forecaster said to me we were looking at a freight train coming across the country. We’re now looking at a bullet train, because the numbers are going up that quickly,” he said.
Cuomo then explained that the real concern is the moment when the numbers reach their peak, or apex. He had previously said the apex would require hospital beds for 110,000 people. Today he said new modeling suggests that estimate was low. “The new projection suggests that the number of hospital beds needed could be as high as 140,000. So, flatten the curve, flatten the curve. We haven’t flattened the curve and the curve is actually increasing.” The result is that New York is, according to this projection, about 90,000 hospital beds short. Even worse, the state has only about 3,000 ICU beds and may need as many as 40,000.
This apex was initially projected to hit sometime in May but the new data suggests it could be as little as 2-3 weeks away. Cuomo said that with the state having already shut down businesses and increased testing to the highest per capita rate in the world, there is nothing left for the government to do to try to slow down the spread of the virus. The state is testing possible drug remedies and therapies like the one Jazz wrote about earlier but there’s no guarantee any of those efforts will provide a solution in the next two weeks.
Cuomo summed up that portion of his press conference saying, “The inescapable conclusion is that the rate of infection is going up, it is spiking. The apex is higher than we thought and the apex is sooner than we thought. That is a bad combination of facts.”
The remainder of the statement was about how New York was trying to get ready for the bullet train by increasing the number of beds, staff, and equipment. Cuomo said there was a lot of work left to be done on these fronts but suggested the limiting factor would be ventilators. He said everyone in the world is trying to get these and New York cannot get any more. They have 7,000 on hand but he said the state needs 30,000 to deal with the apex. Cuomo pleaded with HHS Sec. Azar to release a federal stockpile of 20,000 ventilators to New York arguing that the situation in the state is far more severe than anywhere else in the country. Here’s the slide he used to make that argument:
Cuomo went on to say that once New York had passed its apex, the ventilators could be redeployed to other areas that need them.
All in all, a very sobering press conference. If the estimates Cuomo is getting from his forecasters are correct then we’re looking at a potential disaster that, as of now, will overwhelm the system in a matter of weeks. Here’s the full press conference: