New York is in dire need of ventilators. China just donated 1,000.

By Ella Nilsen

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the Javits Center in New York City on March 30.
Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Saturday that the Chinese government is helping “facilitate a donation” of 1,000 ventilators to his state, and said they would arrive at JFK Airport later in the day.

“We finally got some good news today,” the governor tweeted as he made the announcement. New York is the US state hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with 113,704 cases and over 3,560 deaths confirmed as of April 4. It’s also facing a serious shortage of necessary equipment to protect Covid-19 patients and health care workers alike.

The donation comes two days after Cuomo announced New York had just six days left of ventilators in their state stockpile, and was coordinated by the Chinese government and businessmen Jack Ma and Joe Tsai, according to Cuomo’s tweet. Soon after sharing news of the donated machines, Cuomo tweeted Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) is also sending a shipment of 140 ventilators to New York.

The announced shipments come one day after President Donald Trump said he couldn’t assure New York that they would get the ventilators they badly need, saying the federal government has more states to worry about.

“No. They should’ve had more ventilators at the time. They should’ve had more ventilators, they were totally under-serviced,” Trump said Friday in response to a question from ABC’s Jon Karl. “We happen to think [Cuomo’s] well-served with ventilators, we’re going to find out. But we have other states to take care of.”

Cuomo, on the other hand, does not think Trump and the federal government are doing enough to help New York as their protective and health care equipment shortage has gotten increasingly dire. FEMA has sent about 4,000 ventilators to New York as of Wednesday, according to the New York Times. When the agency sent 400 ventilators to New York last month, Cuomo said it was not enough at a March 24 press conference.

“What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000?” Cuomo said. “You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators.”

Other governors have asked for thousands of ventilators and received a few hundred; Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker asked the federal government for 4,000 ventilators and received about 400 as of this week.

More recently, Cuomo had adopted the position that New York is essentially on its own — and that it will ensure it doesn’t just rely on the federal government for assistance. Cuomo added he did not think the federal government would deny New York ventilators if it had them stockpiled, but he is concerned there’s not enough equipment to go around for all the states.

“I don’t think the federal government is in a position to provide ventilators to the extent the nation may need them,” Cuomo said on Thursday. “I know that the ventilator ability is just a problem for everyone — you have 50 states competing for it, you have the federal government trying to buy it. Our attitude here is we’re on our own; I will ask the federal government if we get to that point. I’ll do whatever I have to do to get ventilators from the federal government, but that’s why we’re also taking all those extraordinary measures ourselves.”

The state’s ventilator stockpile is shrinking, and Cuomo signed an executive order on Friday that would allow New York state officials to seize ventilators from health care facilities that aren’t using them and give them to hospitals. He also called on New York companies to start manufacturing other basic protective equipment for doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus fight, and said the state would help companies pay for manufacturing costs.

So far, however, New York appears to be finding more luck working with the Chinese government and other individual states to procure ventilators than it has with Trump and the federal government.