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U.S. Assistant Health Secretary Adm. Brett Giroir said on “Fox & Friends” on Thursday that the federal government has been able to provide New York with everything the state has asked for amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think you probably heard Governor [Andrew] Cuomo yesterday that we have poured materials into New York,” Giroir, a pediatrician and member of the White House coronavirus task force, said. “Everything they have asked for to this point we’ve been able to provide them.”
New York, which is currently the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, has more than 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 350 deaths, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University. More than 20,000 of those cases are in New York City.
Because of the influx of patients, New York is experiencing a shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. Host Brian Kilmeade pressed Giroir on the "special circumstance" unfolding in New York City, describing it as "blinking red light" about the urgent need for medical supplies.
“You’ll hear very exciting news about tens of millions of new masks coming into the system, but we think we’ve supplied everything New York has needed,” Giroir said on Thursday.
“They talked about 30,000 ventilators, we’ve sent 4,400. We urged them to use their resources, for example, make sure all the anesthesia machines can be used. That's a primary source we know they have not fully tapped into yet.
“So we will continue to supply New York with every single thing they need,” he continued. “The stockpile is moving, masks are moving, ventilators are moving.”
“If they ask, we will supply it,” Giroir added.
While cases have continued to dramatically increase in New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that there were early signs that restrictions enacted in the city -- including limits on social gatherings -- were slowing its spread.
“The arrows are headed in the right direction, and that is always better than the arrows headed in the wrong direction,” Cuomo said during a press conference Wednesday.
Estimates on Tuesday showed cases doubling in the city every 4.7 days, compared to Monday when it was doubling about every 3.4 days.
Kilmeade noted that Cuomo “is getting a little impatient now with the federal government” and said the Defense Production Act needs to be implemented in order to get the supplies and protective gear that the state needs to keep up with the influx of patients.
He then asked Giroir, “Why haven't you nationalized and centralized it so at the very least states aren't getting gouged and we could have a central location?”
“The Defense Production Act, it's very important that that potential is there, but as the president has clearly said, industry is pouring in with offers,” Giroir said in response. “Everything we’ve asked, they have done and they come every single day to provide more and more goods, more and more opportunities, retooling plants, factories to make everything here.”
He added that “there is a role for centralization of some resources that's why we have a strategic national stockpile, but the last thing we want to do is get in the middle of normal supply chains to hospitals, laboratories.
“The private sector does this better than anyone else and when the private sector can work, and we see it working on a daily basis including ramping up, we don't want to get in the middle of that,” he continued. “Why should the government buy it, bring it to a central place and then try to redistribute it to where things need to go?”
He went on to note that on “certain occasions, when there are scarcities, we absolutely do that.”
“I think you know the government put out an RFP [Request for Proposal] to buy 100,000 ventilators. That's something that we need to help [with] across the country, so in selective circumstances absolutely, but in others, we want the private sector to work,” Giroir added.
Fox News’ Greg Norman, David Aaro and The Associated Press contributed to this report.