Gov. Cuomo Slams Trump: 'You Pick the 26,000 People Who Are Going to Die Because You Only Sent 400 Ventilators'

By Susan Jones | March 24, 2020 | 12:14pm EDT
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hold a news conference on March 24. (Photo: Screen capture)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hold a news conference on March 24. (Photo: Screen capture)

( - At another one of his lengthy, folksy news conferences on Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made an impassioned plea for more ventilators and more hospital beds, right now.

He said New York will require 140,000 hospital beds, a new estimate, once the state reaches the "apex" of the contagion, which he expects to happen in 14 to 21 days.

Cuomo said after New York is done with the 30,000 ventilators he says he needs, he will personally transport them anywhere else in the country where they may be needed next.

Cuomoalso said President Donald Trump must treat the battle against coronavirus as though it were a true war, by ordering companies, under the Defense Production Act, to retool so they can quickly produce ventilators.

President Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning, "The Defense Production Act is in full force, but haven’t had to use it because no one has said NO! Millions of masks coming as back up to States."

But Cuomo was sharply critical of the Trump administration on Tuesday:

I look at actions, not words. They're doing the supplies? Here's my question. Where are they? Where are the ventilators? Where are the gowns? Where's the PPEs? Where are the masks? Where are they? Where are they, if they're doing it? By the way, Peter Navarro -- well, we want to work with companies. Fine, work with companies. What the Defense Procurement Act was about, the country needed materials to go to war.

When we went to war, we didn't say, any company out there want to build a battleship? Who wants to build a battleship? Maybe a couple of you guys could get together and build a battleship, maybe a couple of you guys could get together and build us some missiles -- maybe, ya think?  Anybody want to build a plane? You know, we’re going to need planes. You know, they're sending planes at us and they're dropping bombs. Anybody want to do that?

That's not how you did it. The president said it's a war. It is a war. Well then act like it's a war! Nobody is talking about, change the governmental philosophy. By the way, the businesses would welcome it. I speak to the businesses. You know what they say? I'll do it, but I need start-up capital. I can't turn my factory overnight into a ventilator manufacturing company. I have to buy equipment, I have to find personnel, I have to have the start-up capital? Will you give me the start-up capital? Will you give me an order that says if I go through all this, you will buy X number of units?

It's actually a pro-business mentality. Not an anti-business.  This is a false distinction. Well, we don't want to tell business what to do. That's our philosophy. We don't want to tell business what to do. You know what business wants? They want to make money. They want to put people to work, they want to open their factory, they want to make money. Let them open their factory and make money. Help them do that by ordering the supplies you need. It's a war. You're right.

Say, Zach, you're building battleships. Here's your contract, God bless you. That's what the Defense Procurement Act was all about. And at the rate they are going, it is not happening. 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!

Before taking questions, Cuomo aimed for a reassuring note:

And we're going to get through it because we are New York and because we've dealt with a lot of things, and because we are smart. You have to be smart to make it in New York. And we are resourceful, and we are showing how resourceful we are. And because we are united, and when you are united, there is nothing you can't do.

And because we are New York tough. We are tough. You have to be tough. This place makes you tough. But it makes you tough in a good way.

We're going to make it, because I love New York, and I love New York because New York loves you. New York loves all of you. Black and white and brown and Asian and short and tall and gay and straight -- New York loves everyone. That's why I love New York. It always has, it always will.

And at the end of the day, my friends, even if it is a long day, and this is a long day, love wins. Always. And it will win again through this virus. Thank you.


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