Cuomo says ‘so what’ to ‘nationalization’ argument against Defense Production Act

Photo by Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo brushed off arguments against federal use of the Defense Production Act to produce ventilators and personal protective equipment to fight the COVID-19 epidemic in a Monday morning press conference.

In his update to the public — in which he reported progress in goals in increasing hospital capacity for New Yorkers — said that not only would companies get paid “handsomely” for producing the hardware necessary to get society back on track but that politics should not be invoked in a period of crisis.

“Let the federal government put in place the federal Defense Production Act; it does not nationalize any industry. All it does is say to a factory, ‘You must produce this quantity,’” Cuomo said. “I get that a lot of companies are stepping up and doing good things … but you can’t run this operation like that … Yes, it is an assertion of government power on private sector companies. Yes — but so what. This is an emergency.”

As of Monday, the state has tested more than any other in the country and has currently administered 16,000 total in the last 10 days starting March 13.

While the majority of these have been downstate, Cuomo said that this is because of the majority of cases being in New York City. South Korea has been recognized as a leader in containing the crisis for widespread testing, up to 20,000.

“I told New York City yesterday I want a plan on how they’re going to control and reduce the density. I said I wanted the plan today and I want the state to approve the plan. It has to focus on young people and the gathering of young people,” Cuomo said. “If New York City needs legislation to enact their plan once we approve it, I would ask New York City to pass the legislation quickly. If they have a problem passing legislation they should let me know.”

About 13 percent of coronavirus patients are being hospitalized as accounted for since the onset of spread in New York, which Cuomo said is a “good number” compared to previous estimates ranging in the 20s. Of the 13 percent of hospitalizations, Cuomo said 24 percent require intensive care.

Cuomo’s goal for increasing hospital capacity from 53,000 to at least 110,000 beds still stands with aims to turn several locations such as the Javits Center into temporary medical centers. But the need for ICU beds remains dire with only 3,000 and the Cuomo administration estimating a need of 18,000 to 37,000.

Over the weekend, Cuomo stated that there were about 6,000 ventilators on order.

This story first appeared on amny.c0m.