New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced the creation of a coalition of seven neighboring states in the Northeast to purchase medical equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the coronavirus pandemic.
New York will join New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to purchase the equipment as a block, eliminating competition between them to drive down prices, Cuomo said at a press briefing.
“We can’t go through this day-to-day moving masks all across the state, this mad scramble that we were in and still are in, in many ways,”Cuomo said. “Also, as a nation, we can’t go through this again. There was competition among states, there was competition among private entities to get this equipment, the federal government was trying to buy it. I’m bidding on behalf of New York, we’re bidding against other states. Texas, California — other states across the country are trying to buy the same masks among the same vendor.”
Cuomo said there had been a “price bidding war” between states at the height of the pandemic in New York, which he called “totally inefficient and ineffective.” The governor said the seven states will account for about $5 billion worth of medical supplies, which “will increase our market power when buying.”
States in regions across the country formed coalitions in April to coordinate how and when their economies would reopen, including all seven states that will now coordinate on supply purchases.
Cuomo said the consortium will also allow the states to identify companies that won contracts during the crisis and failed to live up to their terms. “Let’s stop doing business with vendors we found to be irresponsible,” he said.
Additionally, Cuomo said he will be implementing a state requirement that all hospitals maintain a supply of PPE that would last for 90 days during a similar surge in hospitalizations that New York saw last month.
Cuomo said “another lesson learned” was about the hospital system, saying there isn’t a “public health system,” but instead a “hospital system.” He said the state learned the “hard way” about capacity, equipment and management.
He noted that there are only 12 public hospitals in New York City, while there are 44 private hospitals in the city that were all doing businesses as individual entities. He said the 176 private hospitals in the state that had to operate under the “surge and flex management system,” and have to “realize that all have to be part of one system.”
“We have to manage this system as one because hospitals are getting overwhelmed,” Cuomo said. “Maybe within the public system they can share patients and doctors and staff … We have to get these 176 hospitals now all to work together, even with the public hospitals.”
Meanwhile, Cuomo encouraged New Yorkers to continue to wear masks in public. The statewide death toll decreased slightly on Saturday to 280, he said. The total hospitalization rate was 9,786, the first time since mid-March that it has been below 10,000.
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