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Cuomo signs order for New York to commandeer ventilators, protective gear

New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoDisjointed vaccine distribution poses early test for Biden Three National Guardsmen killed after military helicopter crash in New York New York City reschedules 23,000 vaccination appointments due to supply issues MORE (D) on Friday signed an executive order saying the state can take ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) from hospitals and medical institutions and redistribute the items to places that are in dire need.

The governor said at his daily press conference that the National Guard will transport the ventilators, masks and other equipment to hard-hit parts of the state like New York City.

"We do not have enough ventilators. Period. I am signing an Executive Order allowing the state to take ventilators and redistribute to hospitals in need," Cuomo tweeted on Friday.

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Cuomo, who warned on Thursday that the state's stockpile of ventilators would run out in the next six days, said there are hospitals in the state that have several hundred ventilators and excess protective gear but are not yet dealing with high numbers of COVID-19 cases.

"It's not that we're going to leave any health care facility without adequate equipment, but they don't need excess equipment now," he said.

Cuomo said the state government will eventually return the equipment or pay hospitals for new ones.

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New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioDisjointed vaccine distribution poses early test for Biden Fauci said second COVID-19 vaccine shot knocked him out for 24 hours Ohio vaccine distributor suspended after improperly storing, spoiling 890 doses MORE (D) said Friday the city would run out of ventilators by Monday or Tuesday.

Ventilators, which help people breathe, are critical pieces of equipment for serious coronavirus cases since the disease attacks the lungs.

Hospitals across the country say they don't have enough ventilators to care for the influx of patients they're expecting in the coming days and weeks. Other shortages include protective equipment, like respirator masks and gowns that protect health care workers from the virus. 

Cuomo urged manufacturers in the state to transition to making protective equipment.

"It can't be that we can't make this," he said, standing up and holding a flimsy hospital gown. "It can't be that complicated in this country and in this state to transition to make those supplies quickly."

Cuomo said the state had its biggest one-day increase in coronavirus deaths since the outbreak began, with 562 deaths over the last 24 hours. There are more than 102,000 confirmed cases in the state, including 2,900 deaths. 

Updated at 12:09 pm.