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Cuomo: 'Act like it's a war' to save lives and stop spread of Covid-19

On Monday, President Trump suggested Americans might be able to go back to work in a matter of weeks to jump start the economy.

On Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo said while there may be a smart way to let some healthy people go back to work, it cannot be done at the expense of the lives of the people most at risk of dying from Covid-19.

“We are going to fight every way we can to save every life,” Cuomo said.

The rate of cases of new infections is doubling every three days in New York State, Cuomo said, sounding the alarm that the measures already in place haven't been able to slow the spread. As of early Tuesday afternoon, New York had more than 25,000 positive cases, he said.

"That is a dramatic increase in the rate of infection. This whole discussion all along has been how fast does the rate of increase spread, can we slow the rate of increase. We are not slowing it," he said, speaking from the Javits Center in New York City, which is being transformed into a 1,000-bed field hospital to treat coronavirus patients.

Cuomo said new projections show that the apex of hospitalizations could come as soon as 14 to 21 days.

He said the state may now need up to 140,000 beds. Previously, the estimate was 100,000.

The state may turn to college dormitories to provide beds, Cuomo said.

"I will turn this state upside down looking for hospital beds," he said.

Also critical to saving lives will be getting enough ventilators, which would help people in respiratory failure breathe. New York currently has 7,000 ventilators.

"We need an additional 30,000," Cuomo said. "You cannot buy them. You cannot find them. They are technical pieces of equipment."

New York hospitals are experimenting with doubling up patients on one ventilator.

Cuomo blasted the federal government for resisting enacting the Defense Production Act introduced during the Korean War to compel factories to start making ventilators and other medical equipment in short supply.

“It is a war,” Cuomo said of the nation’s response to fight the spread of the coronavirus. “Act like it's a war.”

He asked for ventilators to be sent to New York as soon as possible since the state is seeing the most cases. After hospitalizations peak, he said, the ventilators could be sent to other states when they need them.

Cuomo addressed questions posed by Trump on Monday about whether government restrictions on work and movement had gone too far.

“We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” Trump said Monday.

Cuomo said he believes there’s a more refined way to reduce the spread.

But, he said, "Job one has to be save lives."

Experts across the spectrum estimate the pandemic will claim the lives of 1-3% of people, Cuomo said.

“We’re not willing to sacrifice 1-2%,” Cuomo said. “That’s not who we are.”

Cuomo acknowledged there's likely a "smarter approach" to balancing protecting people's health jump starting the economy.

"Find a way to test to see if people have already had it," Cuomo suggested. "They can go back to work."

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