How is New York tackling its "greatest critical need," ventilators

Gov. Cuomo estimates the state will need 30,000
Posted at 11:28 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 23:28:27-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Governor Andrew Cuomo said, "the greatest critical need are ventilators," but what happens if there are not enough ventilators for every patient who needs one.

“FEMA says we’re sending 400 ventilators, really, what am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000 you pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators," said Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday.

7 Eyewitness News looked in depth at The New York State Health Department's Ventilator Allocation Guideline released in 2015. The more than 200 pages detail how ventilators should be distributed during a pandemic.

In it, is a four-tier triage chart; it's not necessarily the sickest patients who receive a ventilator:

  • Blue patients- eliminated as being high risk
  • Red patients- first priority, likely to recover with ventilators, unlikely to without them
  • Yellow patients- second priority, they're very sick and might or might not recover with a ventilator
  • Green patients- don't need a ventilator

The goal is for it to never need to be implemented.

Cuomo said the state has obtained 7,000 ventilators, that is less than 25% of what he said is needed. The desperate need is leading to new testing, splitting one ventilator between two COVID-19 patients via two tubes.

Private companies are working to fill the ventilator void, including Tesla.

Local leaders, including Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo) and New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, are imploring the company to manufacture at the state subsidized Buffalo facility.

With the state's Coronavirus peak predicted to hit sooner than expected, Cuomo said the ventilators need to come within 14 days.

"A ventilator will make the difference literally between life and death for these people," he said.