NYC hospitals could run out of needed supplies by next week, mayor says

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams emphasizes the need for the public to stay at home in a sober warning about the novel coronavirus pandemic. CNN’s John Berman reports.

New York City hospitals will only be able to get through this week before they start getting “to a point where people can’t be saved” because of equipment shortages, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN on Monday.

“In our public hospitals, our 11 public hospitals right now, this week, I can only guarantee you right now, John, that we can get through this week with the equipment and supplies we have. That’s the blunt reality,” he told CNN’s John Berman.

“If we don’t get some relief quickly, and I can count, John, I literally want to see hundreds of ventilators, I want to see first hundreds of thousands and millions of masks, if that doesn’t come in starting this week, we will get to a point where people can’t be saved who could have been saved.”

“It’s shocking to have to say this. Even just a few days ago, I thought we could get safely into April. It’s moving so fast right now, that I can’t even say that anymore,” de Blasio said.

New York City, the largest and most densely populated city in the United States, has rapidly become the epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus spread. On Sunday, de Blasio said there were nearly 10,000 people with confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city, by far the largest cluster among the nearly 35,000 cases in the country.

Health officials have warned that hospitals are experiencing major shortages of equipment, including masks to protect front-line workers and ventilators to treat patients unable to breathe on their own.

“There are shortages of a wide variety of personal protective equipment, particularly N95 masks and gloves and gowns,” said Nancy Foster, a vice president with the American Hospital Association, which represents more than 5,000 hospitals and health systems.

Unlike regular surgical facemasks, N95 respirators have a tighter fit and are better at filtering out airborne particles that could spread the virus.

She said the shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE, is happening across the country, not just in hot spots like New York or Washington state.

“Every hospital and every community, even if they are not experiencing community outbreak, expects to, so this is an issue,” she said.

Stark warnings for New York

With the number of cases rising so rapidly, New York City is most acutely feeling that shortage, particularly with ventilators.

“If we don’t get ventilators this week, we are going to start losing lives we could have saved. I can’t be blunter than that,” de Blasio said.

Last week, the mayor’s office said New York City needs 45 million surgical gowns, coveralls, gloves, and facemasks by early April to ensure its healthcare system can deal with coronavirus-related issues.

The federal government has so far resisted nationalizing the effort to acquire medical supplies, instead leaving it up to individual state leaders. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that has created a frantic competition between states to purchase needed supplies.

“Currently, when states are doing it, we are competing against other states,” he said. “In some ways we’re savaging other states. I’m trying to buy masks. I’m competing with California and Illinois and Florida.”

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams gave a “somber” message to the nation while speaking on NBC on Monday morning.

“I want America to understand — this week, it’s going to get bad,” Adams told NBC.

De Blasio said he agreed with the surgeon general’s grim prediction.

“The surgeon general is right. It’s going to be bad this week. it’s going to be worse the following week,” he said.

“It’s the beginning of something that will get worse throughout April and into May, and we’ve got to brace ourselves and we’ve got to change our lives.”