Cuomo: COVID-19 Peak Will be Sooner, and Higher, Than Predicted
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters in New York City Tuesday.
Credit: PBS Newshour

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is now predicted to reach its apex in as soon as two weeks in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday, after state officials had previously projected the peak to be more than a month away.

Cuomo said the disease is spreading faster in New York than previously predicted, and that it’s now expected to send more people to the hospital than initially thought.

"The apex is higher than we thought and the apex is sooner than we thought,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo, speaking to reporters in New York City, said the state is now projecting that as many as 140,000 hospital beds will be needed at the height of the disease, which is nearly three times as many as the state currently has available.

New York also has a massive shortage in the number of ventilators that could be used for patients who end up in the intensive care unit because of COVID-19.

Cuomo said Tuesday that New York could need as many as 40,000 ICU beds, each of which would require a ventilator. The state has somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000 ventilators available, with another 7,000 on the way.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, delivered 400 ventilators to New York City on Tuesday. That’s well below what’s needed in the city, which has become the national epicenter for the disease.

Cuomo scoffed at the offer Tuesday, stressing that people would die in New York without more help from the federal government. He suggested that federal officials choose the victims.

“You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators,” Cuomo said.

As of Tuesday morning, 756 people had required treatment in an intensive care unit bed because of the disease in New York.

That number is expected to rise, and it’s expected to rise fast. Officials in New York had previously predicted the apex of the disease would hit at the start of May. Cuomo said they’re now projecting it for two to three weeks from Tuesday.

The number of people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 is already higher in New York than anywhere else in the country — as well as other countries entirely.

Cuomo said Tuesday morning that 25,665 people had tested positive for the disease in New York. Of those, 3,234 have required hospitalization. Approximately 91,270 people have been tested for the disease in New York.

Cuomo called on President Donald Trump, again Tuesday, to use a federal law that would require businesses to manufacture medical supplies and equipment to respond to the pandemic. Trump has left the door open to that option, but hasn’t used it.

The federal government also has a stockpile of 20,000 ventilators that could be used in New York, Cuomo said. That amount could nearly fill the state’s needs. Federal officials haven’t said they’ll be used in New York.

Cuomo called on those ventilators to be sent to New York, and said the state would pay for them to be shipped elsewhere when the state’s needs are met.