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Ventilator controversy roils NY-27 election battle

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to take ventilators from upstate hospitals became fuel for controversy in the race for New York's 27th Congressional District on Saturday.

The campaign of candidate Chris Jacobs, a Republican state senator, tweeted a false rumor that the National Guard took 30 ventilators from a Buffalo hospital.

Democrat Nate McMurray also took to Twitter – to defend the governor's executive order.

Jacobs tweeted shortly after 7:30 p.m. Friday: "In regard to governor exec order taking ventilators from upstate, just heard they have taken 30 ventilators already from Buffalo General. Terrible."

His post was among several on Twitter about such supposed seizures Friday night. On Saturday morning, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz called that rumor, along with others, "categorically FALSE." Kaleida Health officials also shot down the rumor. The Jacobs tweet was removed but screenshots were widely circulated Saturday, including by at least one opponent.

Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr., the Erie County comptroller and a candidate in the Republican primary for the 27th District, called on Jacobs to apologize for what he described as an "inflammatory and false tweet."

McMurray, a former Grand Island supervisor, took the position that Erie County should help New York City.

He tweeted: "Oregon sent ventilators to NYC. But officials in Erie County don’t want to? I don’t think you guys get this. We are in this together. As @NYGovCuomo just said, stop the fire before it spreads to your house."

McMurray said he realizes he is taking an unpopular stand. In addition to Jacobs and other Republicans, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Rep. Brian Higgins and other members of the Democratic Party have blasted Cuomo’s ventilator order.

“This is not a time to score cheap political points. Because in a few weeks – in a few weeks – we’re all going to have to go back to the governor and say, ‘We need X, Y and Z,’” McMurray said. “And he’s going to be the guy that goes somewhere else to get them. Do they understand this?”

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