NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered a grim update on the exploding coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, saying New York is in the grip of a frightening "spike" with 25,000 people now infected in the state and 210 dead.
Mixing soaring rhetoric and raw anger at a bungled federal response, Cuomo said New York City now has 14,904 coronavirus cases, with 6,000 new cases in the five boroughs in the past 24 hours alone.
"The rate of increase of infection is doubling every three days," Cuomo said. "The curve is actually increasing."
"It is spiking," Cuomo said. "That is a bad combination of facts."
The governor warned that the efforts to contain the virus are so far falling dramatically short.
"We were looking at a freight train. Now we are looking at a bullet train," he said.
He harshly lashed out at the federal government for sending 400 ventilators, when the state needs 30,000 within days.
"You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?" he asked.
Cuomo said it's good that New York City residents are starting to heed warnings to limit social interaction and to stay off the streets.
But he conceded that the measures are still not working — and the worst is still at least two or three weeks away.
New York will now need an estimated 140,000 hospital beds, up from 110,000 estimated before. There are only 50,000 available hospital beds now.
Cuomo paid tribute to New York's medical workers, police, firefighters and transit workers, who are putting their lives on the line every day.
"You want talk about extraordinary," he said. "Extraordinary."
In addition to previously announced testing of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, the state's Health Department is experimenting with injecting plasma from infected people into other people "struggling" with disease to see if "antibodies make a difference," Cuomo said.
Cuomo says the state procured 7,000 ventilators — "a dramatic increase" — but there's still a "critical and desperate need" for 30,000 more.
New York will experiment with splitting a ventilator between two patients, a "difficult-to-perform" procedure, Cuomo says, adding, "Necessity is the mother of invention."
The governor also repeated calls for the federal government to use the Defense Production Act to compel manufacturers to produce ventilators, and to send ventilators from federal stockpile of 20,000 to New York.
"I do not for the life of me understand the reluctance to use the Defense Production Act," he said.
The governor suggested New York is being hit with the top of the disease curve first. But other states are likely to see the same problem soon.
"I'm asking you to help New York to help yourself," the governor said, addressing the nation.
"Deal with the apex here. Don't leave them sitting on a stockpile," Cuomo said. "Let's help each other."
Alluding to President Donald Trump's comments on the need to restart the economy, Cuomo said "we're not going to put a dollar figure" on human life.
"If you ask the American people to choose between public health and the economy, it's no contest ... No American is going to say how much a life is worth."
Cuomo spoke at the Javits Convention Center where emergency hospital are being constructed. He was flanked by Gen. Patrick Murphy and Major Gen. Raymond Shields, whom he praised as adept leaders in times of crisis.
He portrayed himself as both a leader and a foot soldier in the pandemic fight.
"I'm Private Cuomo, but I'll be your governor today," he said.
The governor sought to use soaring rhetoric to inspire hard-pressed New Yorkers in one of the darkest days in recent memory.
"We are New York tough. And we're going to make it," he said. "Even if it's a long day, and it's a long day, love will win."
He emotionally suggested that elderly people cannot be "expendable" even in a harsh crisis.
"My mother is not expendable and your mother is not expendable and our brothers and sisters are not expendable.," he said. "What is this, some modern Darwinian theory of natural selection?"