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Vice President Pence said Tuesday the federal government sent 2,000 ventilators from the national stockpile to the state of New York, which has become the epicenter of coronavirus in the U.S., and vowed to send 2,000 more on Wednesday.
“I just received word, and the challenge the state of New York faces. Earlier today, FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency], from the national stockpile, shipped 2,000 ventilators to the state of New York,” Pence said during Fox News’ virtual coronavirus town hall Tuesday.
“Tomorrow, there will be another 2,000 ventilators shipped from the national stockpile,” Pence said. “We have a ways to go yet, it’s the reason why we’re marshaling all the resources, not just from national stockpiles but from our existing supply in hospitals, and that equipment can be converted.”
Pence went on to stress to “the people in New York” that the 2,000 ventilators “were sent directly” to the state.
Pence’s comments come after the president tweeted early Tuesday saying that the government had sent just 400 ventilators to New York. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had requested some 15,000 ventilators to deal with the outbreak in the state.
De Blasio and Cuomo, both Democrats, repeatedly have sounded the alarm on the shortage of ventilators in New York City hospitals, as many COVID-19 patients need the machines to help them breathe. Responding to a recent FEMA shipment of 400 ventilators, Cuomo said at a Tuesday news conference: “You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?... What are we going to do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000?”
He added: “I will turn this state upside down to get the number of beds we need.”
New York now has more than 25,000 positive cases of coronavirus in the state, with roughly half of them in New York City.
To help the state grapple with the outbreak, Cuomo has also announced four sites in the state that will serve as additional space for hospitals overflowing due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“We projected an apex at 100,000 hospital beds needed,” Cuomo said Tuesday. “The new projection suggests as high as 140,000 hospital beds will be needed.”
Cuomo said that the coronavirus curve in the state hasn’t been “flattened” and instead “is actually increasing,” saying the peak of the virus in the state is likely to hit New York in 14 to 21 days.
“New York is the canary in the coal mine,” Cuomo said. “New York is going first. We have the fastest and highest rate of infection. What’s happening in New York is going to happen in California, Washington Illinois, it’s just a matter of time.”
Cuomo said that once New York has stifled the rate of infection and spread of the virus, it would be able to help other states not yet hit by the illness. Cuomo also vowed to explore every option to expand hospital capacity, including dorms and hotels.
“I will turn the state upside down to get the number of beds we need,” he said.
COVID-19 was designated a pandemic by the World Health Organization earlier this month. The president declared a national emergency, and governors across the nation have issued executive orders urging residents to stay at home.
As of midday Tuesday, the U.S. had at least 46,800 cases in US positive cases of COVID-19. The virus has claimed nearly 600 lives in the U.S.
Fox News' Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.