Cuomo says National Guard may be trained to use manual bag valves if short on ventilators
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Saturday the National Guard may be trained to operate manual bag valves if the state runs short on ventilators needed to treat coronavirus patients.
Cuomo said the valves, which are essentially masks with bags that are manually pumped to provide infected individuals with oxygen, appear easy to operate but would require a massive amount of manpower if they were required for a large number of patients.
“This looks easy. I guarantee if you do this for any length of time, you’ll see how difficult it winds up being. This is the alternative if you don’t have the ventilators,” Cuomo said, adding that the state has already bought 3,000 valves and has ordered another 4,000.
“We’re even talking about training National Guard people to learn how to operate this device, which is relatively simple to operate, but you need a lot of people to operate this 24 hours a day for each patient,” he added. “The short answer is no thank you.”
WATCH: NY Gov. Cuomo demonstrates how to use a bag valve mask, a manual alternative to a ventilator.
“If we have to turn to this device on any large scale basis, that is not an acceptable situation.” pic.twitter.com/rCBnI348RU
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 28, 2020
Cuomo doubled down that New York needs 30,000 ventilators to prepare for the worst-case scenario as the number of COVID-19 cases in the state continues to climb.
The governor added that 728 people have died in the state because of the coronavirus and said there were 52,318 confirmed cases, including 7,681 new cases.
“The data says at that high point of need, you could need 140,000 hospital beds, and you could need 30,000 ventilators. That’s what the numerical projections say. So we’re planning for that worst-case scenario, which the models predict,” he said. “If we can’t flatten the curve, can’t slow the infection rate, you hit that apex, make sure you’re ready for the apex, and that’s where the 30,000 ventilators come in.”
Cuomo added that he has “no desire” to purchase more ventilators than are needed, noting that each machine costs at least $25,000 and could run as high as $45,000.
The remarks push back on President Trump’s claims this week that Cuomo was exaggerating the number of ventilators New York needs.
“I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” Trump said on Fox News on Thursday. “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go into major hospitals, sometimes they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?'”
New York has emerged as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., accounting for roughly half the total number of cases in the country.
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