New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) revealed Tuesday that the state is experimenting with having two coronavirus-stricken patients share a single medical ventilator to make up for a shortage of machines.
“We’re going so far as to try an experimental procedure where we split the ventilator. We use one ventilator for two patients,” Cuomo said during his daily press briefing on his state’s efforts to combat the spread of the deadly disease. “It’s experimental, but at this point, we have no alternative.”
Cuomo explained the ventilators are being placed between two patients’ beds with two sets of tubes going to each person. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” the governor added. “We are working on this as we speak because life is options and we don’t have any other options.”
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The announcement comes as New York races to transform Manhattan’s Javits Convention Center into complex to treat the coronavirus.
The center will add about 2,000 beds to New York’s 53,000-bed hospital system. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will construct four 250-bed temporary hospitals and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will build a fifth facility with an additional 1,000 beds.
New York has nearly 21,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and 157 people in the state have died after becoming ill. The virus is projected to lead to a demand for 110,000 hospital beds.
“For us, a major thrust is increasing hospital capacity,” Cuomo said. “We’re trying to reduce the rate of the spread of the virus. But at the same time, we have to get that hospital capacity up.”
Cuomo said construction on the facilities is expected to be completed in about seven to 10 days at which point they can begin admitting patients.
The hospitals, which will serve to take on patients from the state’s traditional hospitals as they are overwhelmed, will also come with medical supplies and be run by 320 federal staffers.
“This will be a backfill facility, where we can relieve some of the pressure and the tension from hospitals by using these beds,” he said.
The UPI contributed to this report.