After President Donald Trump repeatedly failed to assure New York State that the federal government would supply enough ventilators, saying it had more states to worry about, China — among other American states — sent supplies instead.
China Helps New York
On Saturday morning March 4, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York announced that China had helped “facilitate a donation” of 1,000 ventilators to his state, adding that the supply was to arrive later in that same day to J.F. Kennedy Airport.
“We finally got some good news today,” he tweeted on Saturday. Gov. Cuomo also stated on Twitter that the donation was coordinated by the Chinese government and the affluent Chinese businessmen Jack Ma and Joe Tsai —the co-founders of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
The donation of ventilators came a couple of days after Cuomo declared that his state merely had six days left of ventilators in its stockpile. He had long called on the federal government to provide enough ventilators, which, he says, it repeatedly failed to do.
The Current Impact of Coronavirus in the United States
The United States reported on Monday morning that the total number of coronavirus cases had reached 330,891, with 8,910 deaths. New York state is the country’s hardest-hit state with over 130,000 confirmed cases and over 4,700 deaths.
New York State is facing an alarming shortage of supplies as it stands on the front line of the pandemic, which is heavily concentrated in the New York City metropolitan area, in the southern part of the state, where over 68,000 cases were confirmed with more than 2,700 deaths.
President Trump blamed the state for its own shortage of ventilators. “They should’ve had more ventilators at the time. They should’ve had more ventilators,” he said on Friday.
Cuomo: ‘What Am I Going to do With 400 Ventilators When I Need 30,000?’
The Federal Emergency Management Agence (FEMA) sent 400 ventilators to New York last month, but Gov. Cuomo said it was not enough. “What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000?” he said at a press conference on March 24. “You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators.”
According to the New York Times, FEMA sent about 4,000 ventilators to New York State so far. But Gov. Cuomo still deems Trump and the federal government are not doing enough to help the country’s epicenter of the pandemic.
Other states, such as Washington, California and Oregon, have also sent supplies of ventilators to New York, Gov. Cuomo said on Monday. However, states have often found themselves competing against each other for medical supplies, blaming the federal government and the Trump administration of mismanagement. Last week, Gov. Cuomo described the situation as “being on eBay with 50 other states”.
China’s Additional Help to Other States
New York was not the first state to receive aid from China. Earlier last week, the state of Massachusetts used its NFL team the New England Patriots’ private Boeing jet to pick up over a million masks from China. Russia has also sent medical equipment to the United States.
Observers, however, say that New York is facing the shortage crisis much like the country is as a whole. On an international level, the United States has also been competing with other nations to acquire medical supplies and equipment, sometimes even facing accusations of misappropriation.
Trump said he would prevent the export of N95 protective masks, which are made by the American 3M company, to Canada and other countries. Germany also accused the United States of “modern piracy” after it reportedly diverted in Thailand a shipment of about 200,000 N95 masks that were intended for the German police. Other American buyers were accused earlier of outbidding on masks that were intended to be delivered to France.
The American 3M company, manufacturer of the N95 mask (which is said to provide better protection compared with ordinary surgical masks) said on Friday that the Trump administration had requested an increase in shipments to the United States from its factories overseas, and that it had secured agreements to ship 10 million masks from its plants in China. 3M also said the administration had told the company to stop exporting masks from US production sites to neighboring Canada and Latin America.
Brazil’s health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, also said last week that his country’s recent attempts to purchase protective gear from China had failed due to what he called “a problem of hyper-demand”.
The number of confirmed cases in the United States is yet to have reached its apex, experts say, as authorities are finding it hard to enforce social-distancing measures, given that a number of people are still going outdoors for unnecessary activities. State governors like Cuomo have called on their local city and county governments to enforce social-distancing rules even more strictly.