By Mike Murphy
President Donald Trump on Thursday night expressed doubt that New York really needed tens of thousands of ventilators, despite the urgent pleas from health-care professionals and that state’s governor.
In a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity, Trump suggested there doesn’t need to be that steep of a ramp-up in production.
“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. 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?’”
President Donald Trump
“I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” Trump said, noting that ventilators are expensive to make.
“Look, it’s a very bad situation,” he continued. “We haven’t seen anything like it. But the end result is we gotta get back to work and I think we can start by opening up certain parts of the country.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that in a worst-case scenario, between 2.4 million and 21 million Americans could require hospitalization — many of whom would require ventilators. There are an estimated 100,000 ventilators in the U.S. and some predict that the U.S. could need up to 750,000 to deal with the pandemic, Needham analysts said this week.
At one Manhattan hospital, the number of patients needing ventilators more than doubled in three days, the New York Post reported, “a pace that exceeds the overall increase in new cases,” one doctor said . “We have not exhausted out existing supply of ventilators, but if we keep doubling every three days we might.”
On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the federal response to the coronavirus crisis in his state, and especially hard-hit New York City. He said the state urgently needed 30,000 ventilators, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency had only committed to sending 400.
“You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?” Cuomo said. “What are we going to do with 400 ventilators? You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die.”
The U.S. surpassed China on Thursday as having the most coronavirus cases in the world, and the pandemic only seems to be gaining speed and lethality. The U.S. has more than 82,000 cases, and more than 1,100 deaths, with around 400 of those in New York.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported Thursday that the White House had been poised to announce a deal to produce 80,000 ventilators through a joint venture by General Motors /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM -0.54% and Ventec Life Systems, but backed out after the $1 billion price tag was seen as too expensive.
Some government officials reportedly were worried that they would be left holding an expensive surplus of leftover ventilators.
The Times reported the deal still may go through, and other proposals were being considered as well.