In a press conference Saturday morning, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the price of ventilators had skyrocketed from $25,000 each to $45,000, as 50 states and the federal government all bid against each other for the vital oxygen device. “Why? Because they’re in such demand and there’s such competition to buy the ventilators,” Cuomo said. New York has calculated that they need 30,000 ventilators to fight the worsening pandemic, which is likely to hit an apex of hospitalizations in 21 days. However, every other state is also desperate for the equipment. “We’re literally bidding up the prices ourselves,” Cuomo said, adding that he wanted state governors to form a nationwide buying consortium. He said it wasn’t price gouging but, rather, “just private market competition.”
President Trump had questioned whether states actually needed the equipment they’re asking for, however he invoked the Defense Production Act on Friday to force General Motors to start making ventilators. Cuomo said on Saturday that the state could not afford to inflate the number it needed. “You’re talking about a state government that, frankly, is already, from a position of revenue, in a terrible position because we’re not collecting any revenues, literally. So I don’t want to buy any more ventilators than we need to buy,” he said. New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, has 52,318 people with coronavirus, of which 7,328 are in hospital.