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'This Is A War': With One-Third Of US COVID-19 Cases, Cuomo Says 100K May Need Hospital Care

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the lack of ventilators is his biggest concern now.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the lack of ventilators is his biggest concern now. Photo Credit: Governor's Office

With New York now having about one-third of cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the nation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the battle against the disease "a war" and said more than 100,000 residents in the state may require hospitalization.

"New York's number is high, No. 1, because of our population, our density, etc.," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an interview Thursday morning, March 19 on MSNBC. "Also, we are testing at a very high rate. We did about 8,000 tests just overnight, and in this situation, the more you test the more positives you are going to find."

As of Thursday morning, New York had 2,959 COVID-19 cases, with 21 deaths. So far, about 14,000 have now been tested in New York.

"It is no way reflective of the spread of the virus," Cuomo said. "I think the virus is well in advance of any of these numbers. So really what's happening is the more you test, the more positives you're going to find.

"Especially the way you test because we track down the positive person and then you go down the line. You're going to see it jump astronomically because we're doing so many tests."

There are now more than 8,900 COVID-19 cases in the United States with 153 deaths.

But Cuomo says the actual number of cases throughout the nation maybe even more than 10 times higher.

"We did some projections," Cuomo said. "You're going to have different trajectories in different states, but we think here in New York, we're looking at a peak in about five or six weeks.

"We're looking at about 110,000 hospitalizations, about 25,000 to 37,000 people needing ICU beds. That vastly overwhelms our healthcare capacity. That's what this has been all about from day one - trying to reduce the rate of the spread to meet the capacity of your healthcare system.

"The best news is I think the federal government has now really gotten this and they're engaged. This is a war. It's a different type of war, but it's a war requiring massive government mobilization and only the federal government can do that. States can't fight wars. So you need the federal government. You need that capacity."

Cuomo said the lack of ventilators is his biggest concern now.

"We have a real equipment problem," he said. "Ventilators are going to wind up being the great story when this is over. The way we need missiles in world wars, we need ventilators. We will lose people without ventilators."

Cuomo said the state will introduce more steps to reduce density following an executive order he signed on Wednesday, March 18 requiring all non-essential businesses in New York to have at least half their employees work from home.

"I make decisions based on the science, based on the data, based on the numbers," he said. "When the numbers go up and that spread is increasing, then we ratchet up the density controls."

He said he still has no plans to put a shelter-in-place order for New York City, labeling it "imprisonment of people in their homes," and saying it would "explode panic in New York City."

"We're battling the virus and we're also battling the fear," Cuomo said. "The fear and the panic I think can be worse than the virus.

"I cut my teeth on disasters down in Florida, during Hurricane Andrew (in 1992) when I was HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) assistant secretary.

"I've seen panic. I've seen fear. And I'm telling you that it is more frightening than the virus.

"Communication is very important. We've had mixed messages from the federal government. I'm glad the president is now fully engaged.

"But this chaos is feeding a panic and when you get to a dense place like New York City, you panic people, you're going to have a real problem you can't manage.

"The fear is spreading faster than the virus is spreading and the fear is harder for us to deal with."

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