BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Governor Cuomo says he will be signing an executive order that will allow the state to take and redistribute ventilators and PPE across the state.
Ventilators and personal protective equipment continue to be hard to come by across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the states.
On Friday, Cuomo announced that the executive order will allow the New York National Guard to take unused equipment from private health care organizations and place them in hospitals that need them the most in New York City.
"I don't have an option," Cuomo said. "I'm not going to get into a situation where we know we are running out of ventilators and we have people dying because we have no ventilators, but there are hospitals in other parts of the state that have ventilators they are not using."
This announcement comes on the same day nurses at ECMC stood outside the hospital, rallying for more PPE.
"The N95's are going to be useless if all of us get sick and can't work," said Jennifer Snyder, who is an RN works in the ECMC emergency room.
Erie County Legislator Joe Lorigo has some serious concerns about the redistribution of ventilators.
"If we hit our peak while the ventilators and equipment aren't here, people in Erie County are going to be at severe risk of death," he said. "In one day, with one executive order, he is reigniting the upstate v. downstate war. I can't in good conscious let our equipment be taken from us when we're potentially going to hit our peak in the next 1-3 weeks."
During his daily 3:00 p.m. news briefing, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "there is not a single person that is going to have a ventilator taken away in Erie County to send downstate. We are all in this together, but someone's life downstate is no different than a life upstate."
We have been watching the situation in New York City and we have an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths in other parts of New York. Taking our ventilators by force leaves people without protection and hospitals unable to save lives today or respond to a coming surge.— Tom Reed (@RepTomReed) April 3, 2020
Republicans in New York State like Senator Rob Ortt, Senator Chris Jacobs and Representative Tom Reed, sent a joint statement, standing united on this front.
"We have been watching the situation in New York City and we have an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths in other parts of New York," Taking our ventilators by force leaves our people without protection and our hospitals unable to save lives today or respond to a coming surge. We stand together opposing the Governor's very dangerous and reckless action. He is leaving our communities in a terrible position which will cost lives."
We do not have enough ventilators.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 3, 2020
I am signing an Executive Order allowing the state to take ventilators and redistribute to hospitals in need.
The National Guard will be mobilized to move ventilators to where they are urgently required to save lives.
In a press conference late Friday, Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh said:
"We can't buy new ventilators if you decide to give us money instead of our own ventilators back. That's why you are wanting to use ours because you can't buy them yourself. Again - we value the residents of downstate New York as mush as we do ours, but we can't put ours in jeopardy and no amount of money you can give us for a ventilator you borrowed is going to bring back a life in Western New York.
In a one-on-one interview with 7 Eyewitness News, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul said:
"But the second that abates or the needs pop up upstate, all those resources are coming back to where they’re needed. This is why as one state we shouldn’t be concerned about this we are not going to leave Western New York in dire straits or with a shortage of ventilators.”
Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins also weighing in saying, "The concept of National Guard troops taking custody of ventilators, personal protective equipment and other resources from Western New York is unacceptable"
Kaleida Health is the latest to respond to the Governor's Executive Order. President and CEO Jody L. Lomeo says in part, "We have a responsibility here in this community. We will be helpful where and when we can, but not to the detriment of the hard working staff and the patients that trust us for their care. It’s as simple as that.”
ECMC CEO Thomas J. Quatroche Jr., PhD says:
“Over the past several weeks, ECMC, like all other hospitals in New York State, implemented plans and procedures to prepare for a surge of COVID-19 patients. We were asked by the Governor to protect our communities and that’s what we have done. ECMC complied with the NYS Health Commissioner’s 50% surge mandate and prepared further for a potential 100% increase. The Governor’s announced Executive Order regarding ECMC and other upstate hospitals sending ventilators to an unknown destination in metropolitan New York City jeopardizes that plan and will place our patients and community at risk and weaken our preparation for the anticipated COVID-19 surge in Western New York."