Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday urged President Donald Trump to invoke a decades-old law that requires companies to manufacture medical supplies to make up for a shortfall and prevent states from competing among themselves for masks, gowns and ventilators.
The supplies are needed to combat the growth in coronavirus cases and the coming wave of hospitalizations as a result.
New York now has more than 15,000 confirmed cases, the most in the country, a sign testing has ramped up. Of those cases, about 13 percent of people have been hospitalized.
More than 100 people have died as a result of the virus.
“The federal government should nationalize medical supply acquisition,” Cuomo said. “The states cannot manage it.”
Cuomo wants Trump to enact the Defense Production Act, which would have companies convert their production facilities to make medical supplies. Cuomo has urged private industry to do so, but he cannot order them.
“We need that production now,” Cuomo said. “We have cries from hospitals all around the state. They need the materials now.”
New York’s hospital capacity will need to double from 50,000 beds to more than 100,000 beds, Cuomo said. SUNY campuses in Old Westbury and Stony Brook, as well as the Westchester County Center and Javits Center, are being converted to temporary hospital sites.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, meanwhile, will be setting up four field hospitals at the Javits Center in New York City.
Elective surgeries on Wednesday will be postponed in New York to further free up hospital space.
To further the return of medical staff that have been sickened the virus, Cuomo also urged the Food and Drug Administration to speed up the testing of coronavirus antibodies to determine if a person has worked COVID-19 through their immune system.
Meanwhile, trials will begin on Tuesday of anti-malaria drugs that have anecdotally shown to alleviate coronavirus symptoms in other countries, but are yet to be tested in the United States.
“We don’t know” if it will work, Cuomo said, “but let’s find out and let’s find out quickly.”
Cuomo also urged the federal government to approve aid for people who have lost their jobs as a result of the crises as businesses have shuttered and millions of people have been ordered to stay home.
But Cuomo also acknowledged the state governments will need a bailout as well. Cuomo signed onto a letter last week with fellow governors asking for a $150 billion aid package for state governments.
“I’m asking the president to do what I did,” Cuomo said. “Cut the red tape, cut the bureaucracy, cut to the chase, get the Army Corps moving, get FEMA moving, before the trajectory hits its apex.”