New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says there is only one "practical solution" for the nation to avoid a widespread catastrophe in the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Hours after the state legislature passed a new budget, Gov. Cuomo renewed calls for mutual aid among states at his daily news conference.
States and the federal government are so lacking in necessary supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators, that there is "no state" that can get all the equipment it needs for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak within its borders, Cuomo told reporters.
"I think the only practical solution at this time is to focus on the emergency that is in front of you ... and then redeploy [supplies] to the next situation," he said.
Each state's respective 'curve' — its number of cases that require hospitalization — will crest at different times. New York and Washington are about to experience the first peaks over the next few weeks. Then, with continued adherence to social distancing measures, the outbreak within their respective borders will subside, freeing up resources for other states in need.
"New York is the tip of the spear, so to speak," Cuomo said. "We have the high numbers, the first major encounter. Deploy major resources to New York. In 17 - 21 days, we're on the other side of the curve. Then I don't need the ventilators and the masks that we have. We can redeploy what we have ... to every locality that is next."
While the timing won't be perfect, Cuomo says there's no alternative but states helping each other in the same way they do with "minor emergencies or disasters," like weather events.
At least 20,000 health professionals have already responded to New York. Cuomo vowed that with or without a federal mandate, New York will lend aid to its neighbors when the outbreak wanes.
"It's in the American DNA to say we need to help each other," he said. "We're community. We're Americans. We're a family. ... [States] are just lines on a piece of paper."
Cuomo also announced an executive order that will give New York the right to take PPE and ventilators from institutions in the state that aren't utilizing them and send them to hospitals in need during the coronavirus crisis.
As the need for equipment changes, it will be redeployed among state hospitals.
When the equipment is no longer needed, the state will either return it to where it came from or offer compensation to its owner. Acknowledging the potential "hardship," Cuomo said there is no alternative.
"I'm not going to get into a situation where people are dying because they don't have ventilators," he said.
New York reported 102,863 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 — the novel coronavirus — and 2,935 deaths due to COVID-19, as of Friday morning.
With the prevalence of the virus in the state continuing to rise and a sweeping stay-home order in effect since March 22, Cuomo says there are very few non-COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York.
As such, many of the additional facilities and field hospitals erected in New York over the past weeks, initially intended for non-COVID cases, are being remade to handle the serious respiratory disease. State hospitals are effectively COVID-19 ICU's at this point, Cuomo said.
On Thursday, Cuomo expressed hope that widespread testing on the other side of the state's curve will allow New York to loosen social distancing restrictions and restart the economy.
Photo: Getty Images