In the span of a single day, the coronavirus death toll in New York soared by 134 people, making it the deadliest state for the disease.
Speaking to members of the National Guard at the Javits Center on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) didn’t mince words about the severity of the global pandemic.
“This is a different beast that we’re dealing with. This is an invisible beast, it is an insidious beast,” Cuomo said. “This is not going to be a short deployment. This is not going to be that you go out there for a few days, we work hard and we go home. This is going to be weeks and weeks and weeks. This is going to be a long day, and it’s going to be a hard day, and it’s going to be an ugly day, and it’s going to be a sad day.”
The Javits Center has been converted into a disaster hospital, with 250 beds lined up next to each other and 320 FEMA workers assigned to the center.
“This is a rescue mission that you’re on,” Cuomo added. “The mission is to save lives.”
In New York alone, more than 500 people have died of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and at least 1,000 people have died nationwide. More than 80,000 cases of infection have been reported throughout the U.S., with more than 30,000 of those cases in New York.
The numbers are likely much higher, but a lack of testing kits and an administration downplaying the threat of the virus has helped to obscure the official tally.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has rejected New York’s plea for ventilators, telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday night that he doesn’t believe the state needs that many.
“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” Trump said. “You know, you go into major hospitals sometimes, they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying can we order 30,000 ventilators?”
Trump’s administration fell in line behind him on Thursday when Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator for the White House’s coronavirus task force, said that there was no “evidence” that hospitals were facing a severe shortage of ventilators, even as people continue to die.
In a single day, 13 people died of COVID-19 in Queens’ Elmhurst Hospital Center, where there are just a few dozen ventilators for those who need them, The New York Times reported.