State Watch

New York City auctioned off extra ventilators due to cost of maintenance: report


New York City auctioned off hundreds of city-owned ventilators at least five years ago under Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, according to an investigation by ProPublica

The city acquired the ventilators in 2006 under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, when a new strain of the flu was circulating in Asia, according to a report from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene obtained by the news outlet.

The city began to acquire ventilators and “stockpile a supply of facemasks,” which were later auctioned off because the machines broke down and the health department “couldn’t afford to maintain them,” according to ProPublica. 

Years later, the city has become the epicenter of the novel coronavirus in the U.S., with 72,324 confirmed cases and at least 5,489 deaths throughout the five boroughs, the mayor reported Tuesday. 

The 14-year-old report obtained by ProPublica shows the city was keenly aware of the consequences of a potential pandemic, almost predicting the exact scenario that played out this year, according to the investigative outlet. 

“Since the pandemic will be widespread in the United States, the supplies from the federal Strategic National Stockpile may not be available and local caches will need to be relied upon,” the 2006 report said.

The news from ProPublica comes as states and cities scramble to gather ventilators and other medical supplies — often competing with one another for such equipment — as the pandemic grips the country. 

On Friday, de Blasio warned that New York City would run out of its supply of ventilators by Monday or Tuesday and that the city is in dire need of medical personnel. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) warned on Thursday that the state would run out of its stockpile of ventilators within the next six days if it didn’t receive further assistance. 

A similar report from The Nation showed U.S. military and intelligence officials were aware of the specific consequences of a pandemic but did not take action on reports filed by medical staff. 

Tags Andrew Cuomo Bill de Blasio Coronavirus Michael Bloomberg NYC

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