A New York City doctor fighting on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic has publicly called into question Gov Andrew Cuomo‘s assessment that the rate of deaths caused by the illness is dropping, arguing that it runs counter to what he’s been seeing at the hospitals.
Dr Stuart Ditchek, attending physician at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn and team leader for the New York Pandemic Response Working Group, on Sunday appeared on Fox & Friends, saying that while New York, which has been hit the hardest in the nation by the pandemic, may have seen its first daily dip in deaths over the weekend, the conditions in the hospitals remain dire.
‘We are running out of [ventilators] and we are running out of critical priority ICU medications to keep [coronavirus] patients sedated,’ he told the hosts.
During his daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday, Cuomo noted that the statewide daily death toll slid from to 594 from 630, leading him to suggest that the crisis may have reached its peak.
New York remains the epicenter of the US outbreak with Cuomo reporting on Monday there had been 599 new fatalities making a total of 4,758 deaths in the state and 130,689 cases.
Ditchek threw cold water on Cuomo’s conclusion, saying: ‘I don’t agree with that assessment. I think data that comes in through the state and then funneled up to the federal level is often flawed, especially during a crisis when our health care system potentially can collapse.’
He went on to say that many patients in Brooklyn have been dying at home, as opposed to the hospital, and raised the possibility that the reporting of deaths has been unreliable because hospitals are overwhelmed.
Ditchek added that hospitals in the New York area are in critical need of 8,000 ventilators this week.
‘There is no negotiation or debate about that,’ he stressed.
The doctor went on to criticize the exiting system of medical equipment distribution, saying that it is not working, and claimed that there has been a lack of communication between officials and doctors fighting the disease.
‘Nobody is talking to us directly on the ground,’ Ditchek said. ‘We are on our own at this point.’
Prior to his appearance on Fox News, Ditchek sent a letter to President Donald Trump making an urgent plea for help.
‘We have no more time. If you and your team do not act now, many more will needlessly die,’ he wrote in part.
Ditchek asked the president to issue an executive order for the federal government to take resources such as ventilators, other critical supplies and medications ‘from minimally or unaffected states’ and divert them to New York City.
‘You are the only person now who can salvage this crisis in New York, epicenter of COVID-19,’ he added.
During Sunday’s briefing, Governor Cuomo stopped short of saying the worst was over for his state, but suggested that ‘the apex could be a plateau and we could be on that plateau now. We won’t know until you see the next few days, does it go up, does it go down.’
In New York City, there were 64,955 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,472 deaths as of Monday afternoon.
Cuomo again reiterated that the crisis may be plateauing, but he warned against complacency and extended a closure of businesses and schools through April 29.
‘While none of this good news, the possible flattening of the curve is better than the increases that we have seen,’ Cuomo told a daily briefing, stressing that the numbers remain grim and that it was not certain the state had turned the corner.
He added, ‘If we are plateauing we are plateauing at a high level.’
Cuomo warned New Yorkers that ‘now is not the time to slack off’ by venturing outside in violation of stay-at-home guidelines to enjoy the warm spring weather.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Snejana Farberov