Gov. Andrew Cuomo demonstrates how to circulate oxygen flow with a bag valve mask during a COVID-19 press briefing in the state Capitol on Saturday afternoon. Bag valve masks serve as a manual ventilator, the governor said, but are inefficient and have to be hand-pumped 24 hours a day. Cuomo said the state needs 40,000 total ventilators before the virus apex, or peak, hits within the next three weeks. Courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office 

ALBANY — The state will take ventilators and personal protective equipment from private institutions, including hospitals, that are not using the supplies and redistribute them across New York to hospitals with the highest need to combat the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared in an executive order Friday.

The National Guard will transport the ventilators and PPE across the state to hospitals and medical centers that need them. The equipment will be returned or the hospital or institution will be reimbursed for the equipment after the pandemic.

“Am I ‘seizing’ ventilators? No — I’m taking excess equipment to save lives,” Cuomo said Friday during a COVID-19 briefing in the state Capitol. “I won’t be in a position where people are dying and we have several hundred ventilators in our state somewhere else. I apologize about the hardships to those institutions. I’m not going to let people die because we didn’t redistribute ventilators.”

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said in a statement Friday that local, rural hospitals have limited resources and need to be prepared themselves for a potential surge of coronavirus patients.

“I am truly alarmed about today’s announcement that an Executive Order will be issued to force hospitals across the state to turn over ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) currently not being used,” she said. “Under the order, the National Guard will be deployed to collect the equipment — which I believe will only heighten the anxiety of a population already on edge due to this crisis.”

Congresswoman Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, said she is similarly concerned about the plans to shift ventilators from upstate to downstate.

“The North Country comprises the largest number of seniors of any Congressional District in New York State, the most vulnerable age group to COVID-19,” she said in a statement. “Our critical needs and vulnerabilities must be considered. North Country hospitals reached out to my office with this specific concern earlier this week – our rural hospitals are already very limited in resources and we must ensure Upstate New York’s needs for testing supplies and ventilators are fully met.”

The state’s virus-related deaths climbed to 2,935 by Friday afternoon, up from 2,373 Thursday. At 102,863 positive cases, just over 14.4% of positively infected New Yorkers are hospitalized, or 14,810 people, with 3,731 patients in the intensive care unit. To date, 8,886 infected patients have been discharged.

State officials study various expert models to determine a moderate projection for the number of hospital beds, ventilators, gloves, masks and other personal protective equipment the state will need. From projections earlier this week, Cuomo said the state could need 37,000 total ventilators to combat the virus at its apex, or height, of the curve.

Cuomo said Thursday that at its current rate, the state’s ventilator stockpile will be depleted in six days as about 300 COVID-19 patients enter intensive care every day. It’s unclear how many ventilators will be redeployed to downstate hospitals. All elective surgeries have ended in the state to free up ventilators. The state has developed several other measures in case of a ventilator shortage, including splitting ventilator tubes for two patients per machine, using anesthesia machine ventilators and converting BiPAP machines to ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

“Several hundred ventilators doesn’t fix the problem, but it’s a significant number,” Cuomo said. “If you find 300 excess ventilators, you’ve found another day. Several hundred could represent several hundred lives. So, am I willing to deploy the National Guard and inconvenience people for several hundred lives? You’re damn right I am.”

The state’s first temporary medical center at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, which has 2,500 beds, opened Monday. Javits will accept and treat COVID-19 patients. Initially, the facility was reserved for patients not infected with the virus.

“We don’t have any non-COVID people to any great extent in the hospitals,” Cuomo said, thanking President Donald Trump for approving Javits to treat people with the virus. “Hospitals have turned into ICU hospitals for COVID-19 patients.”

The 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort, which is docked at Pier 88 in the New York Harbor continues to be for non-COVID-19 patient overflow. Patients infected with the virus will not be treated on the ship, Cuomo said, because it would be too difficult to disinfect.

The governor called for a national deployment of ventilators and resources from other states as rolling COVID-19 peaks hit the United States.

“The federal government does not have enough material to say, ‘Whatever you need, I can get you,’” Cuomo said Friday. “Each state has to help every other state as we go along...When our curve is over, New Yorkers are going to take what we’ve amassed: our equipment, personnel. We’re going to take our knowledge to any community that needs help. New York will be there for any community that needs us.”

The House of Representatives passed a historic $2.2 trillion emergency COVID-19 bill March 27 that cuts financial-assistance checks to middle-class and lower-income Americans and increases unemployment benefits to more workers to be paid for four months. The governor was displeased with the bill and called it “terrible” last week because he said it provided inadequate relief to state governments.

Cuomo pleaded for more funding to help close the expected 10 to $15 billion revenue shortfall in the executive budget caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor spoke to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday about the fourth anticipated federal relief bill and said she pledged to make sure New York receives more federal assistance.

The fight against COVID-19 is projected to continue through the spring and early summer. Working against the virus every day but seeing the death toll and positive cases continue to rise is difficult, Cuomo said.

“It’s hard knowing you’re in charge of the ship at this time,” the governor said. “Eventually, you go through the darkness and find the light, and we’re going to find the light.”

The state’s most dense virus hot spots have remained downstate and in New York City. Positive cases of the virus have been detected in 57 counties in the state, with 57,159 cases in New York City, 12,351 cases in Westchester County, 12,024 in Nassau County, 10,154 cases in Suffolk County, 4,289 in Rockland County and 267 in Albany County.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(28) comments


Taking from Republican counties upstate to give to Democrat voters downstate. That’s the real story, nothing more, nothing less. All because of their and Cuomo’s gross negligence...


Take the ventilators to NYC.

While you're at it, take Stefanik and Ritchie, too.

Deploy them to a city hospital. Tie them to a wall in an ICU unit. Make them watch the "goings on."

NEW CUOMO MANDATE: You two idiots are prohibited from returning to the north country until you get it.




The Mayor of Watertown wrote a letter to the editor just a few days ago saying this was all overblown and businesses should open. Obviously a genius mayor couldn’t be wrong, the North Country must not need respirators. Take all of them, this is a Democratic Hoax probably done by Killary!


It's not really like fire trucks. It is perhaps a bit more like taking somebody's last canteen of water in the desert because you are thirsty today and they will not be thirsty until tomorrow. Somebody will surely die - here or there. The outcome is certain, going about the decision - not so much.

Holmes -- the real one

Did you imagine that the North Country would be left bereft?

Many will surely die -- here AND there.

JPG -- We are defined by what we do for others -- and we are defined by the selfish choices we make also.

I recently had a local "Christian" come and tell me that I needed to have a gun and ammunition handy "to defend yourself when people try to come and take what you have." I took the time to point out just what the Bible notes regarding what Jesus said about such a scenario and then told him that if somebody tries to take something, I'll just give it to them and offer whatever help I can.

Do you have a case of surgical masks in your closet, "just in case"?


Hi Holmes - I imagine the North Country will be left short if we send away our ventilators this week. Simple math. My post did not say take them or not take them. It points out that a fire truck is a bad analogy, that not sending ventilators means someone there dies, and sending ventilators means someone here dies. Making that decision is not so simple as "helping out." If you are willing to die for someone in NYC that you do not know, then good for you. It's probably not up to you or me to make that decision for everyone though. Others can decide as they choose without obligation to anyone. John Dryden reminds that, "Self defense is nature's eldest law." I do not have a case of masks, but making a handful from old clothes for personal use. I am happy to help others and do so often. I would lend my fire extinguisher to a neighbor but would probably not let someone run off with my last canteen in the desert. We are making donations right now AND locking the doors and loading the guns. Best of luck to you and yours in the coming weeks.

Holmes -- the real one

Hi JPG – (I assume you are addressing me and not the fake “Holmes” who has also registered an opinion here.)

I believe that the governor has already made clear that, in his request for healthcare personnel and equipment, the intention is to dispatch the same to upstate when we are the ones in need.

I don’t see the sending of unused ventilators meaning that “someone here dies,” not at all. We are not currently in the throes of an overwhelming epidemic and, if we continue to heed the directive to maintain social isolation, it is unlikely that we’ll be in that situation any time soon. That, in fact is the reason for the “flattening the curve” move in the first place.

Healthcare workers are in the position of potentially laying down their lives for someone they don’t know every single day. So are our soldiers, police, and many others. But lending one’s unused lifesaving equipment to another in a time of their overwhelming need is not the same as laying down your life.

I’ve never been tested on the “last canteen in the desert” scenario, but I have been in the position of giving away my last remaining money on more than one occasion. Even so, I have never gone without. Currently I have more than I need and so am wealthy beyond the belief of most humans living on the planet. I am happy to give what I can and expect nothing in return. Despite doing so on a routine basis, I have repeatedly found that I am always given back more than I can ever give away.

So glad to hear that you are donating to help those in need. I salute you.

Right now I’m sitting eating a slice of freshly baked rye bread with cream cheese and salmon caviar (made from a skein of roe donated to me by a local fisherman). It doesn’t get richer than this and I’d happily share it with you if you happened by.

Best wishes.


Yes, I do imagine that the North Country will be left bereft in favor of urban areas downstate. Their lack of concern for upstate is not new - why do you think we have a higher percentage of elderly people? It's not because we live longer or everyone is rushing to retire here - it is because policies enacted to control the corruption downstate (in the form of regulation, loss of civil liberties, etc.) drive away opportunity and, with it, our youth. Your comments really did not address the truth of JPG's analogy. I do not see how it is any more "selfish" to choose to help my family and neighbors instead of people downstate than it is for you to decide to take resources from my family and neighbors and "just give it to [downstate] and offer whatever help [you] can." A choice has to be made, and it is only natural to want to choose to help those close to you. If this were a disaster that was only affecting a certain area and we withheld resources that could help, I would agree that would be selfish. This is not that type of disaster.


Backwards attitudes drive away our youth. The young people are leaving the conservative areas. The liberal areas (Potsdam/ Canton, Ithaca) are doing fine.


Holmes - the real one - Thank you for your post on this topic. It's a shame it needs to be pointed out. I am disheartened by how angry some here in the north country are about sending medical equipment downstate to help save lives as the # of seriously ill people explodes there. Those same people and politicians were more than happy to have downstate workers come up here, repairing power lines, cleaning debris, etc., when we needed assistance. I guess help is only a one-way street to some.

Holmes -- the real one

Thanks for that, minder -- it's a real confidence booster.

We need to stand up and do what is right -- some will take courage from our actions and will pull away from the nay saying crowd. We do have some good people here! We need to support one another in these trying times.

A friend told me this one:

השליך את לחמך על המים,

כי תמצא אותו אחרי ימים רבים.


תן מנה לשבע, או אפילו לשמונה,

כי אינך יודע איזה אסון עלול להתרחש על פני האדמה.

It basically says, Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.

2 Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. (Ecclesiastes 11:1&2)


No, it is somebody is the desert saying they are immune from dehydration. The North Country’s Republicans think this is a Democratic Hoax, they said so all January and February.


Unfortunately this makes sense. Unprecedented times dictate unprecedented measures. It is illogical to have much needed medical equipment sitting idle. Any properly run business, no matter what its product, would not have equipment sitting idle if it were desperately needed elsewhere. It appears the strain of COVID-19 in the north country is far less severe than other strains downstate.

Holmes -- the real one


Imagine one little town, "A," upstate that purchased a specialized rescue vehicle for its fire department. An emergency situation occurs across the river in the adjacent little town "B."

Now imagine the folks living in town "A" saying, let town "B" go get their own equipment and pay their citizens to each bring tools and work together to address the emergency right now. Our specialized equipment is for us only. We might need it and we want it sitting in the garage in case that happens."

Or imagine having someone in town "A" saying, "Hmmm, and just think 16,000 of these specialized vehicles were available for purchase by town "B" -- they just didn't buy their own. Yep, take a good look folks, if you try to compel us to aid town "B" -- why, this is Socialism 101."


Cuomo should buy as many manual ventilators as he can, then get volunters for bagging. I suspect a lot of people would offer an hour a day to manually ventilate a patient, I'm in! But taking vents from folks who prepared is odd., isn't there a fairy tale about such a situation?

Holmes -- the real one

Wouldn't it be cool if there was a fire, the fire trucks arrived, and the crews just sat there and watched?


Unfortunately this does not make sense. This is not an issue of logic, it is an issue of morality. Only a fool would believe we will get those supplies back in time to deal with the emerging outbreaks upstate – we are only a week or so behind NYC (because we shut down earlier – remember, Cuomo/DeBlasio only closed NYC schools after 86% of the rest of the state had already done so). I do feel bad for those (including some family members) in the NYC metro area – I feel bad that their leaders failed to take action as quickly as people up north. I feel bad that the nature of urban life makes those areas more susceptible to outbreaks spreading quickly. But that does not justify unilateral confiscation of resources – or “redistributing” them (Cuomo’s word choice in his Executive Order - he is not even hiding his socialist tendencies anymore). Furthermore, Cuomo’s directive is unconstitutional - the upstate counties should fight it in court and the NY National Guard personnel have a sworn obligation to refuse to carry it out. The 5th Amendment, before stating “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation,” states that no one in this nation may be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Cuomo is not the law, he is subject to it. I am not subject to Cuomo, he is subject to me. It is odd that he plays the tyrant and yet is puzzled as to why the rural minority “clings to its guns.” Do not be surprised if there is armed resistance in some counties when the State swoops in to remove their emergency resources. To claim that emergency medical equipment is “sitting idle” is facile – all emergency equipment sits idle until there is an emergency. To compare this situation to something a fire department would respond to is equally unhelpful – this is not an emergency that will be over in a few hours and then the equipment can be returned. My cousin’s husband is an ER doctor in a city that is awaiting the seemingly inevitable surge of Covid patients. He told me his biggest concern will be dealing with having to choose who to let die so others can live. It is unfortunate that Cuomo has no such concern – he has simply decided to let the people in the red counties upstate die instead of those in the urban blue areas.



Holmes -- the real one

Rutherford --

This is indeed an issue of morality.

How do you define that term?


Morality is generally regarded as a system of values created in a society to distinguish between right and wrong. In this land the United States Constitution defines that system. There are other systems in this land (religions, for example) but the legal morality applying to all people in this land is found in the Constitution, though some may personally place it in subordination to other systems (again, religion be the most common example). What is "right" or "wrong" is not what you or I feel but what the social contract we call the Constitution lays out. That it is open to interpretation and amendment and is therefore not laying claim to absolute truth does not invalidate its role as a moral statute.

Holmes -- the real one

Thanks for clarifying your personal view on morality. It helps me to understand whyyou have taken the position you have taken.


"It is unfortunate that Cuomo has no such concern – he has simply decided to let the people in the red counties upstate die instead of those in the urban blue areas."

He's moving resources where they are needed. It would be immoral to do otherwise.


Who prepared for this? The north country has a certain number of ventilators with no thought to a pandemic. No preparedness there.


Hmmm, and just think 16,000 ventilators were available for purchase by Cuomo and he said No. Yep, take a good look folks, this is Socialism 101. Whatever you have the Cuomo’s of the world will just seize it from you.


You support Trump, who was calling this a Hoax in January and February 2020. You are saying Cuomo should have predicted this in 2015. This is about intelligence. So clear to see.


Jan 7. CDC established a Coronavirus incident mgt system, 2 days before China announced the outbreak. Pelosi began week 3 of withholding her sham impeachment articles. Want me to go on, I can right up to Mar??

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