Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a blistering assessment of Washington’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday — with over 25,000 New Yorkers now ill, more than 200 dead and the sickness’s spread accelerating like a “bullet train.”
“The president said it’s a war,” said a visibly angered Cuomo in a press briefing. “Well, then, act like it’s a war!”
Cuomo’s anger boiled over as he spoke at Manhattan’s Javits Center, which is in the process of being converted to a 2,000-bed hospital complex to fight a flood of cases that now stands at 25,665 in the state — with 210 dead — and 14,904 in the city.
‘The president said it’s a war. Well, then, act like it’s a war!’
The governor accused President Trump, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and the Federal Emergency Management Agency of largely leaving New York to fend for itself.
“People say, politicians say. I look at actions, not words,” fumed Cuomo. “They’re doing the supplies? Here’s my question. Where are they?”
At the top of Cuomo’s list of grievances was the mere 400 ventilators that FEMA has committed to sending the city — a fraction of the 30,000 that he says the state will require when the contagion hits with its full force.
“You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?” asked Cuomo. “What are we going to do with 400 ventilators?
“You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die,” said Cuomo — so incensed that he misstated the 29,600 New Yorkers who would actually be left without the life-saving equipment.
Cuomo invoked his most dire terms yet with the worst of the plague bearing down with increasing speed, and now as little as two weeks away.
“We’re not slowing it, and it is accelerating on its own,” said Cuomo, noting that number of cases in New York is now doubling every three days.
“The [disease] forecaster said to me, ‘We were looking at a freight train coming across the country,’” Cuomo related.
“‘We’re now looking at a bullet train.’”
The rate has led experts to project an eventual peak demand of 140,000 hospital beds — up from the 110,000 that Cuomo had previously predicted.
The state has only about 53,000 permanent hospital beds.
The increased rate also led Cuomo to project that the worst could hit in as little as two weeks.
“It accelerates the apex, to a point where it could be as close as 14 to 21 days,” he said. “The apex is higher than we thought, and the apex is sooner than we thought.”
With the worst still ahead, Cuomo balked at Trump’s suggestion that America abandon social-distancing and restart its economy sooner rather than later.
“This is unsustainable, that we close down the economy and we continue to spend money,” he acknowledged. “But if you ask the American people to choose between public health and the economy, then it’s no contest.
“No American is going to say, ‘Accelerate the economy at the cost of human life.’
“What is this, some modern Darwinian theory of natural selection?” asked Cuomo. “If you can’t keep up, then you just fall be the wayside of life? God forbid.”
Additional reporting by Julia Marsh.