New York will allow two patients to share a single ventilator

New York state has approved technology that allows two patients to share a single ventilator, in an effort to address a desperate need as the number of coronavirus patients in the state rocketed past 37,000.

(CNN) -- New York state has approved technology that allows two patients to share a single ventilator, in an effort to address a desperate need as the number of coronavirus patients in the state rocketed past 37,000.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday referred to the method as "splitting" and said it involves adding a second set of tubes to a ventilator.

"It's not ideal," Cuomo said, "but we believe it's workable."

The governor has repeatedly said the state needs at least 30,000 ventilators to treat coronavirus patients, but it has only a fraction of that. Cuomo said Wednesday that New York has 4,000 ventilators in the hospital system and the federal government has sent another 4,0000. The state has purchased an additional 7,000 and is looking for more.

The governor previewed the "experimental" splitting strategy on Tuesday, saying, "We have no alternative."

He explained Thursday that the demand for ventilators is so high, in part, because some Covid-19 patients need them for an extended period of time.

Patients in other situations are typically on ventilators for three to four days, Cuomo said, while Covid-19 patients are on them anywhere from 11 to 21 days.

The state is exploring converting anesthesia machines to works as ventilators, the governor said. But New York officials continue to search for more ventilators to add to their supply.

"We're still shopping for ventilators all across the country," Cuomo said. "We need more."

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