$2 trillion Senate bailout ‘terrible for New York’

Governor Cuomo announces distribution of health care supplies to New York City, Long Island and Westchester hospitals.
Governor Cuomo announces distribution of health care supplies to New York City, Long Island and Westchester hospitals.
Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo
Governor Cuomo announces distribution of health care supplies to New York City, Long Island and Westchester hospitals.

$2 trillion Senate bailout ‘terrible for New York’

The governor is having better luck boosting the state’s hospital capacity.
March 25, 2020

A $2 trillion bill before the U.S. Senate does not include enough aid for New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says, claiming it would only receive $3.8 billion for its efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Cuomo administration is now projecting that the state budget deficit could become as high as $15 billion – a situation that Cuomo has said can only be ameliorated by a massive influx of federal aid. But with federal lawmakers now appearing to be on the brink of passing a second round of federal aid to help states deal with the virus and its associated effect on the economy, it appears Cuomo will not get what he wants from the federal government on the funding front, which could have big implications for the state budget process and his plans to cut spending in the state Medicaid program

“$3.8 billion sounds like a lot of money,” Cuomo told reporters at a Wednesday morning press conference in the state Capitol, “(but) the response to this virus has probably already cost us $1 billion. It will probably cost us several billion dollars when we’re done.”

Cuomo is having better luck with getting the federal government to help the state expand its hospital capacity. Despite new restrictions on social gatherings, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continue to grow rapidly – although there are a few signs that the influx into the health care system is slowing, according to Cuomo. The rate of increase within the hospital system was doubling every two days as of Sunday. That has now slowed to every 4.7 days as of Tuesday. 

The state projects that it needs 140,000 new hospital beds to deal with the pandemic, which is projected to reach its apex in coming weeks. If all hospitals increase capacity by at least 50% – as Cuomo recently ordered – the state would add 27,000 beds. The federal government is providing another 4,000 beds, and a U.S. naval ship will provide 1,000 more once it arrives in April. Converting downstate dormitories could add 29,000. All in all, plans are underway to boost capacity by about 120,000 beds – but it will take several weeks to get them all up and running. Cuomo says that hospitals statewide have adequate supplies to meet demand for at least two more weeks. About 3,800 people are currently hospitalized with the virus in New York, with about 900 people in intensive care units.

The state still lacks adequate supplies of ventilators it needs to build 3,000 additional intensive care unit beds – a key point of contention with President Donald Trump. It might be too late at this point for the president to force private industry to manufacture ventilators in time for the the apex of the pandemic, which is projected to happen in about 21 days. Cuomo said that he spoke with Trump this morning, whom he is urging to send thousands of ventilators that are in a federal stockpile, which could then be moved to other states as the epicenter of the pandemic moves away from New York. “The apex high point will be sequential across the country,” Cuomo said. “As soon as we get past our critical moment we will redeploy that equipment and personnel to the next hot spot.”

Zach Williams
is a staff reporter at City & State.
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