Cuomo Slams $2 Trillion US Senate COVID-19 Package
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.
Credit: Dan Clark

Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted a $2 trillion plan under consideration in the U.S. Senate to help the federal government and states respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the package would only deliver $3.8 billion to New York.

Cuomo said New York state has, so far, already spent about $1 billion to respond to the disease, which was first diagnosed in New York state less than a month ago.

“It would really be terrible for the state of New York,” Cuomo said. “I’m telling you these numbers don’t work, and I told the House members we really need their help.”

The Senate is expected to approve the package Wednesday, but Democrats who control the U.S. House of Representatives haven’t committed to approving the measure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, said Wednesday that it’s under review.

“House Democrats will now review the final provisions and legislative text of the agreement to determine a course of action,” Pelosi said.

Cuomo didn’t explain why the $2 trillion package would only deliver $3.8 billion to the state’s coffers. The state Division of Budget didn’t immediately provide an explanation on why that would be the case.

New York City would only receive $1.3 billion from the $2 trillion measure, Cuomo said.

“It will probably cost us several billion dollars when it’s done,” Cuomo said. “That is a drop in the bucket as to need.”

New York state has projected that the COVID-19 pandemic will cost the state billions, and decrease the amount of revenue expected over the next year.

Cuomo, speaking to reporters Wednesday, said the direct cost born by the state would be in the billions. An exact number has been difficult to project, given that the situation has appeared to develop rapidly over the last two weeks.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, last week, projected that as much as $7 billion in revenue could be lost from the state due to the pandemic. That’s not counting the direct cost of the state’s response.

And while Cuomo was critical of Republicans in the U.S. Senate for their proposal, he struck a different tone with his counterpart in the White House Wednesday.

Cuomo has slammed the federal government, in recent days, for not agreeing to send more ventilators to New York state, which expects to need a total of 30,000 at the peak of the disease. New York has procured about half of that amount through different means.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, on Tuesday, delivered 400 ventilators to New York City. Vice President Mike Pence announced later Tuesday that an additional 4,000 ventilators would be delivered to New York state.

That’s on top of 7,000 ventilators that New York state purchased from areas across the globe and 4,000 that are already on hand.

Cuomo has called on the federal government to both dig into a stockpile of 20,000 ventilators for New York, and use a section of federal law that would allow Trump to order manufacturers to make the machines.

Trump has said he’s not planning to use the law, called the Defense Production Act, to force companies to manufacture ventilators. Cuomo has vehemently disagreed with that choice, pointing to New York’s shortage of the machines.

But on Wednesday, Cuomo said Trump was using the federal law “well,” and that conversations with the White House have been ongoing. He said he spoke to Trump Wednesday morning.

“The president and his team, I think, are using the DPA well because it’s a leverage tool when you’re dealing with private companies, right?” Cuomo said.

Several private companies have already committed to making medical supplies and equipment in response to the pandemic, rather than being ordered to by the federal government. Cuomo said the current challenge is finishing the machines in time to be used in New York.

“The problem is our timeline is so short, we’re looking at an apex at 21 days, in that range,” Cuomo said. “To get ventilators and these business consortiums put together, supply chains ramped up, and deliver 30,000 ventilators is an extraordinarily difficult task, and it’s something our team is working on with the White House team.”

The number of positive cases in New York reached 30,811 Wednesday morning, Cuomo said. Nearly two-thirds of those cases are in New York City.

Of those who’ve been diagnosed with the disease, 3,805 have required hospitalization. That’s about 12% of the total cases. Only 3% of the total cases have required treatment in an intensive care unit bed, Cuomo said.