Oregon Sends 140 Ventilators to New York

Andrew Cuomo thanks Kate Brown: "Rest assured that NY will repay the favor when Oregon needs it."

A handmade sign in Northeast Portland. (Rocky Burnside)

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced this morning she is sending 140 ventilators to a stricken New York, where COVID-19 cases have overwhelmed the hospital system.

"New York needs more ventilators, and we are answering their call for help," Brown wrote on Twitter this morning. "We'll be sending 140 ventilators to help NY because Oregon is in a better position right now. We must do all that we can to help those on the front lines of this response."

Ventilators are machines that help people breathe who can no longer do so on their own. New York has suffered 3,565 deaths from COVID-19, 2,624 in New York City, and is poised to run out of ventilators as soon as next week. On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the seizure of ventilators for upstate hospitals to aid New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio warned the ventilator supply could be exhausted by Monday.

Oregon is not nearly so depleted: It has 899 COVID-19 cases and 21 deaths. As of Wednesday, less than 40 people were on ventilators, and the state had about 700 machines left. (The Oregon Health Authority hasn't updated its numbers for the past two days.)

The 140 machines match the number of ventilators Oregon received from the federal government last week.

Days earlier, on March 26, the state's chief epidemiologist, Dr. Dean Sidelinger, told reporters that Oregon could need upward of 1,000 ventilators at the virus's peak. With the donation of 140 ventilators to New York, Oregon may have a deficit of approximately 250 ventilators in the weeks ahead, depending on how many people fall seriously ill from the virus.

The gift between blue-state governors comes after President Donald Trump expressed skepticism that New York needed so many ventilators and White House officials sought to protect the federal stockpile of medical supplies from use in beleaguered states.

Cuomo expressed gratitude this morning and pledged to reciprocate. Several New York media outlets report that Cuomo pledged to return the ventilators "double-fold"—that is, 280 machines—once New York passed its peak caseload. (Oregon isn't projected to reach its peak until early May.)

"The state of Oregon is sending 140 ventilators to NY," he wrote on Twitter. "We are so grateful to @OregonGovBrown and the people of Oregon. On behalf of the people of NY, I thank you and rest assured that NY will repay the favor when Oregon needs it."

This post has been updated.

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