Wed, 27 May 2020

Burn rate of ventilators a confronting problem for New York

Voice of America
03 Apr 2020, 06:35 GMT+10

NEW YORK - New York's governor said Thursday that his state has enough ventilators to last about a week, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases there nears 100,000.

"At the current burn rate, we have about six days of ventilators in our stockpile," Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters in the state capital, Albany. "Meaning if the rate of usage, the rate of people coming into hospitals who need ventilators, if that rate continues, in our stockpile we have about six days."

He cautioned that if cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, surge within that time frame, or if the anticipated number of cases at the peak exceeds projections or lasts longer, the state could face a shortage of breathing machines.

The governor has been working with his team to purchase 30,000 ventilators for his state of 19.5 million people. Half of them would be sent to New York City, which has about 60% of the state's virus cases. With worldwide demand surging, however, it has been difficult to get the number needed quickly enough.

New York has been creative in trying to stretch its current supply of ventilators - allowing them to be refitted to assist two patients simultaneously - as well as converting anesthesia and BiPap machines, which also can push air into patients' lungs. The state has also canceled all non-emergency surgeries to free up existing ventilators.

"So yes, the burn rate of ventilators is troubling and six days of ventilators in the stockpile is troubling," Cuomo said. "But we have all these extraordinary measures that I believe, if push comes to shove, will put us in fairly good shape."

He said about 350 people per night requiring ventilators are admitted to hospitals in the state. New York has approximately 2,200 ventilators left in its stockpile to be deployed as needed.

"Three hundred-fifty people come in every night who need a ventilator, so 2,200 you see, disappears very quickly," Cuomo said.

To date, New York has received 4,400 ventilators from the federal government.

COVID-19 deaths hit 432 people n a 24-hour period in the state. In all, at least 2,400 New Yorkers have lost their lives to the respiratory virus.

Late Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that his hospitals need 400 more ventilators by Sunday for the expected crush of cases to come next week.

He said during the week of April 5, the number needed will rise by 2,500 to 3,000 more breathing machines.

On a promising note, Cuomo said that while hospitalizations are rising, so are the numbers of people recovering and being released.

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