New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo repeatedly claimed his state needed 30,000 ventilators to handle all the cases of COVID-19.
Turns out he didn’t — not even close.
And the Democrat also said hospitals across the state were going to be overrun with critically ill patients, so he persuaded the federal government to pitch in millions to turn the massive Javits Center into a field hospital and rush to overhaul a U.S. Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, outfitted with 500 beds to handle the overflow from packed hospitals.
Turns out Cuomo didn’t need either of those.
“The president sent up a Navy ship, the Comfort. A hospital ship which was very good to have if we need overflow,” Cuomo said Tuesday on MSNBC. “It did give us comfort, but we don’t need it anymore. If they need to deploy it somewhere else, they should take it.”
In his daily White House briefing on Tuesday, President Trump said the ship will return to its home base in Virginia. “We will be bringing the ship back at the earliest time and we’ll get it ready for its next mission, which will, I’m sure it will be a very important one also,” the president said.
The ship was in Norfolk, Va., being overhauled when the Navy was called on to rush the work in order to deploy the ship quickly. In late March, Trump traveled to the Navy port in Virginia to bid bon voyage to the ship “stocked up” with supplies and medical personnel, calling it a “70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity.” The ship has 12 operating rooms, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, a helicopter deck and more, Trump said.
But just days ago, the hospital ship held “fewer than 80 patients in New York City, leaving nearly 90% of its available space unused after its emergency dispatch to the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus crisis,” CNBC reported.
Shortly after arriving from its home port in Norfolk, Virginia, the military’s floating lifesaver was adjusted to receive coronavirus patients, halving its 1,000-bed capacity. As of Friday, 71 of the USNS Comfort’s 500 beds were occupied.
Meanwhile, the Javits Center has been equally little used. The massive center was outfitted with medical equipment and 2,500 beds.
“But much to the frustration of healthcare workers, since that announcement, Javits has taken in nowhere near its capacity. As of April 7, the convention center had admitted only 66 patients. This was due in large part to the strict admission requirements. At first, a patient could only be transferred to Javits if they were convalescing, or in the recovery period. The fear was that Javits didn’t have the ICU beds, operating rooms, or equipment necessary to handle patients who might relapse or need surgery because of an underlying condition,” Business Insider reported.
By April 20, Javitz had treated only 1,000 patients. Few patients ended up being sent there because of overly strict admission criteria.
“It’s insufferable that these guys are not taking our patients, because we need places to put these people,” a doctor at Metropolitan Hospital Center told The New York Post of the lingering vacancies at Javits.