Should Upstate NY Loan Ventilators to Downstate for COVID-19?
New York has long been divided over many issues, but the actions of some politicians and one columnist are adding a new wrinkle to the ages-old upstate-downstate debate.
And it's getting ugly, according to an opinion piece by Ben Adler in cityandstateny.com, a website "dedicated to covering New York’s local and state politics and policy" with "in-depth, non-partisan coverage." Adler claims the COVID-19 crisis has stirred up a notable divide over precious ventilators, which are crucial for treating patients with serious cases of Coronavirus flu.
Governor Andrew Cuomo late last week announced the temporary emergency measure of allowing New York City to borrow (key word here) unused ventilators from upstate regions of the Empire State, which has experienced far fewer cases of the pandemic. The medical device loan would assist hospitals in the New York City region, where ventilators are in shorter supply.
“I’m not going to let people die because we didn’t redistribute ventilators,” Cuomo had said.
According to Adler's piece in cityandstateny.com, "upstate politicians exploded in a greedy rage that would embarrass Ebenezer Scrooge." Here's Adler's inflammatory headline:
Upstate to New York City: Drop Dead. Literally.
And here's why he's so upset: A group of Republican legislators from upstate, later joined by a group of Democrats from the Hudson Valley, sent Cuomo the following letter:
Taking our ventilators by force leaves our people without protection and our hospitals unable to save lives today or respond to a coming surge,” reads the letter. “We stand together opposing the Governor's very dangerous and reckless action. He is leaving our communities in a terrible position which will cost lives.
The group in opposition to Cuomo's ventilator redistribution plan includes Elise Stefanik, who represents New York's 21st district, which covers portions of Herkimer County and the Adirondacks.
So far, New York’s COVID-19 outbreak has been a much bigger problem downstate. That, of course, could change as the virus spreads.
Is there an absolute right and wrong here? Should the ventilators remain upstate or should they be loaned to New York City? Would a compromise be acceptable, where upstate medical facilities could part with a portion of ventilators?