Following the arrival in New York City of the U.S. Naval hospital ship Comfort, NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo is seen during a press conference at the field hospital site at the Javits Center.
Albin Lohr-Jones | Pacific Press | Getty Images
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday a coronavirus outbreak in Long Island is “troubling” as the infection has now spread to every county across the state, surging to 92,381 with 2,373 deaths.
At his daily news conference in Albany, Cuomo said it was the “cruelest irony” that China, where the pandemic began, is the leading producer of critically needed personal protective equipment.
He also said the state would provide assistance to businesses manufacture personal protective gear if possible — face masks, medical gowns, face shields and gloves.
“I’m doing everything I can, but people are still dying and that is hurtful and humbling and painful. Just painful,” Cuomo said. “And this is a long time to be under that level of pain. What do you look like when you come out the other side, I don’t know.
Cuomo said the COVID-19 outbreak isn’t just hitting urban areas. The coronavirus has spread across the state, including in rural communities where there are “more cows than people,” Cuomo said. “It’s suburban areas. That’s Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk. … In many ways New York state is a microcosm of the United States.”
He said Nassau County has 1,000 new cases while Suffolk County — home to the Hamptons — has 1,141 new cases. “That is troubling news.”
He pleaded with local hospitals to not hoard supplies.
“We are asking all the hospitals to contribute what they have to that central stockpile and then we will distribute on a needed basis,” he said.
The state is now predicting it will hit a peak of coronavirus cases in seven to 30 days, and it still doesn’t have enough ventilators to meet the coming wave of seriously ill COVID-19 patients, he said.
“At the current burn rate, we have about six days of ventilators in our stockpile,” Cuomo said. “They are very expensive and the state is broke, so I have no desire to buy more ventilators than we need.”
At the same time, ventilators can mean the difference between life and death.
“If a person comes in and needs a ventilator and you don’t have a ventilator, the person dies. That’s the blunt equation here,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said doctors and nurses in hospitals upstate have been shifted to New York City and other areas that are getting hit the hardest. In addition, 21,000 out-of-state health-care workers have volunteered to come to New York, he said. “I thank their patriotism … These are beautiful, generous people and New Yorkers will return the favor..”
Cuomo’s 49-year-old brother, Chris Cuomo, a CNN anchor who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, appeared at the press conference via video. The two have developed a loyal fan base after their competitive and playful family rivalry was showcased on Chris Cuomo’s show “Cuomo Prime Time.”
“You look good. You sound good. I know sometimes we joke. I’m not going to do that. Rule is you never hit a brother while he is down,” the governor said, before ribbing his brother.
“You have ‘Cuomo Prime Time,’ I have Cuomo all the time. That’s the difference,” the governor said, commenting on his brother’s hat that had his show name stitched on the front. “It is a good-looking hat, and one hour a day. I work 23 hours a day. That’s the mathematical balance.”
The governor said his brother was doing a public service by letting viewers know how his illness was progressing.
“I’ve been saying 1,000 times that 80% of the people get it and they self resolve, but you’re showing that,” the governor said. “I’ve always been proud of you, you know that on a basic level, not only do I love you, I’ve always been proud of you. But I’ve never been prouder of you than I am right now. You go get some rest, I love you.” He said the two would get a drink, go fishing and laugh about it when the outbreak is over.
New York has now become the global epicenter of the outbreak, with more reported infections than China’s Hubei province, where the coronavirus emerged in December.
The state is rushing to build temporary hospitals and the federal government has sent 85 refrigerated trucks to store deceased coronavirus patients. It also has provided hundreds of ambulances, medical personnel and other supplies to New York City.