Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday called for a national draft of medical personnel to help New York fight the coronavirus. With more than 50,000 positive cases and 1,500 deaths, New York City remains the hardest-hit city in the country by the virus and now faces a shortage of health care workers, in addition to a lack of supplies. The request from the mayor echos similar demands from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has also asked for a national rolling deployment of health care workers and equipment to be sent to New York first, with the promise of returning the favor to any community next in need.
“Our City faces unprecedented challenges in the weeks ahead,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Every ventilator and doctor can save a life, which is why we are marshalling every possible resource to our City in record time. But the facts remain the same: the federal government must step up and provide the reinforcements we need. The battle will be long, and we cannot fight it alone.”
De Blasio has repeatedly asked the federal government for military medical personnel, 1,000 nurses, 300 respiratory therapists, and 150 doctors to be sent to New York City by Sunday as part of a national response. The city is currently distributing 400 ventilators from the federal stockpile but will need a minimum of between 2,500 to 3,000 by Sunday for the next week, according to de Blasio. The mayor’s call for a draft comes as he likens the city’s efforts to a “wartime dynamic.”
“The only way we’re going to get through this truly, if we’re going to save every life we can save, it means taking health professionals of every kind with every skill, every training, no matter where they are in their career, and enlisting them in a national service, creating something we just don’t have right now, but we could have, and we need to have,” de Blasio said on Thursday.
The state has asked medical workers to help New York on a voluntary basis. So far, over 20,000 personnel have volunteered as of Friday. Cuomo called for a nationwide systemic approach to this volunteerism and said a “share and shift” of resources is needed.
“When we get past our apex, I will pack up every ventilator, I will bring our entire health team and I will go to any community across the country,” Cuomo said in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday. “I will drive personally, and provide them the assistance and thank for them for what they did for New York. That’s what we do.”
During a press conference on Friday, Cuomo said he plans to sign an executive order that would allow New York to seize unused supplies, including ventilators and personal protective equipment, and redistribute them to hospitals in need. The National Guard will move the ventilators to where they are needed.
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