News & Politics

Cuomo Admits Trump's Right: Coronavirus Shortages Are Fake News

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says, "We can hold them for this long but that's it." (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The president tweeted on Saturday that news is flooded with unsourced claims that can’t be verified. This is perhaps the most dangerous part of the entire pandemic. No one knows what the truth is.

The news media has been propping up all these anecdotal stories of nurses or doctors who claim they don’t have the medical equipment they need. In a viral video released by the New York Times accompanying an article called “13 Deaths in a Day: An ‘Apolcalyptic’ Coronavirus Surge at an N.Y.C. Hospital,” a woman claiming to be a doctor at Elmhurst hospital in New York seems to have violated HIPPA laws and filmed what looks like hospitalized patients and then claimed they didn’t have enough ventilators…while standing in front of five unused ventilators. You would think that if your patients are dying because they are in desperate need of ventilators and the hospital received a new shipment, there would be doctors and nurses rushing them to the dying patients, wouldn’t you?

There are many hysterical unsourced claims out there that are being circulated on shows like The View. In this clip here, Ling does not name any of these hospitals she claims are “overwhelmed.” News articles with headlines that claim the same thing are admitting inside the articles that the hospitals are not really overwhelmed yet but that it’s coming soon! This article in The Wall Street Journal boasts a misleading headline, “Hospital Capacity Crossed Tipping Point in U.S. Coronavirus Hot Spots.” But inside the article, the WSJ reporters quote Washington State hospital physician executive John Milne: “We’re not completely drowning, although it feels like it sometimes…We’re on the threshold of being overwhelmed,” which by definition is not overwhelmed.

New York officials have said multiple times that resources are being reallocated, that no hospitals in New York are overwhelmed as of now, and that steps are being taken to ensure they won’t be — including building huge facilities with extra beds and bringing in a hospital ship from the Navy to take the overflow. But still, the media wants you to think it’s all falling apart and everything is hell.

Governor Cuomo and the head of the NYC hospitals say the reports of not enough personal protective equipment (PPE) are completely untrue. The NYT mentions this in its piece but seems to take the anecdotal evidence from nurses over the government’s response. Another claim that nurses were wearing trash bags as protective gear appeared in that article along with another one in the New York Post. This photograph went viral on Twitter. What the people getting upset about it didn’t realize is that they are all wearing the approved protective gear they claim to need under the trash bags.

According to The New York Times, “at the Mount Sinai Health System, some hospital workers in Manhattan have posted photos on social media showing nurses using trash bags as protective gear. A system spokesman said she was not aware of that happening and noted the nurses had other gear below the bags. ‘The safety of our staff and patients has never been of greater importance and we are taking every precaution possible to protect everyone,’ she said.”

Governor Cuomo came out hard against the people spreading lies that they do not have the protective equipment they need saying, “We have enough PPE and the New York City officials say they have enough PPE for the New York hospitals.” His panel confirmed they spoke with the hospitals directly and the NY Post article called, “Cuomo claims NYC hospitals have enough protective gear-nurses say he’s lying,” is not true.

Cuomo also verified President Trump’s claim about ventilators. Trump said Cuomo has ventilators in a stockpile. Cuomo admitted he has them in a stockpile, but he insisted he’s not sitting on them — rather, no hospital needs them!

No hospitals have called the state to request ventilators, according to Cuomo. He is still saying he needs 30,000 more, however, based on a projected need that may or may not become reality. The president and the governor seem to have worked out their tiff after a phone call and Cuomo now says he feels confident he will get the ventilators he needs now that Trump has forced GM to make the ventilators through the Defense Production Act.

Cuomo may not realize that he is proving Trump correct about fake news stories hyping the crisis. It’s almost satisfying to watch a Democrat be the victim of fake news for once, but I’m not that cruel. I would prefer we had honest journalism so the people who truly need help can get it.

So what is the truth? Is it what the NYT and the NY Post want us to believe? That state governments are failing medical staff and lying to our faces? It seems odd that the only “proof” we’ve seen of the “shortages” are nurses wearing proper protective gear but covered in trash bags, and a video that shows the opposite of what is being claimed. I think I’m with Cuomo on this one. Fake news is damaging to our republic and peace. The pandemic may yet turn out to be far less damaging than was predicted and we should all be hoping for an outcome where 30,000 ventilators are not needed.

On Saturday, there were 6,481 people hospitalized in New York with coronavirus. Of those, 1,583 were in intensive care. If every person in intensive care were on a ventilator, the state still has thousands more than that available as the governor has repeatedly estimated his current stock to be around 6,000 units. It isn’t possible that hospitals are short on ventilators when they have less than 2,000 patients in the ICU in the whole state. These numbers alone should tell people who is telling the truth and who is not. The question of why is harder to figure out.

Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo,” and host of The Fringe podcast. Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter