New York Governor Cuomo Says Jared Kushner Has Been 'Extraordinarily Helpful' In Coronavirus Fight

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Jared Kushner, senior adviser to President Donald Trump, has been "extraordinarily helpful" in assisting the state hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo said the state and federal government are dealing with a "common challenge" as they seek to find what the governor described as the "number one" necessary piece of equipment: ventilators. Ventilators, which are machines used to move breathable air in and out of a patients' lungs who could not otherwise do so, have been sold out nationwide, Cuomo said. In response, both the governor and the White House have been in talks to fast-track the manufacturing of ventilators among private companies or to purchase them outside the U.S. The New York governor offered brief praise of Kushner as a fellow New Yorker who has been crucial to helping the state accelerate the production of ventilators for coronavirus patients in intensive care units.

"I've spoken to people in the White House who are handling these operations. I've spoken with the vice president, I've spoken with Jared Kushner, who is a New Yorker, he knows New York and he is working in the White House. He's been extraordinarily helpful on all of these situations," Cuomo said Wednesday during his latest coronavirus press briefing.

Cuomo said New York needs 30,000 ventilators but currently has only about 4,000 statewide. The federal government sent the state 4,000 earlier this week but nationwide supplies have been completely depleted.

"What we're working on is a common challenge. No one has these ventilators and no one ever anticipated a situation where you would need this number of ventilators to deal with a public health emergency. So we have purchased everything that can be purchased. We're now in a situation where we're trying to accelerate production of these ventilators and a ventilator is a complicated piece of equipment."

Earlier this month, Vanity Fair and the Washington Post reported that Kushner had established a "shadow coronavirus task force." Anonymous senior officials told the publications that Kushner's own team of "government allies and private industry representatives" had created confusion alongside the official Pence-led Coronavirus Task Force. However, several private companies including Ford, 3M and GE Healthcare teamed up this week to help speed up the production of personal protective gear for health care workers and to manufacture ventilators.

The rare moment of praise between a Democratic lawmaker and the Trump White House comes as Cuomo continues to sound the alarm about the state's need for tens of thousands of more hospital beds, particularly ICU beds equipped with ventilators.

"Basically a bed with a ventilator. The ventilator is the most critical piece of equipment for an intensive care unit bed. Because this is a respiratory illness and people need more ventilation than usual. What do we want to do? Reduce the number of cases coming into hospitals, slow the number coming into hospitals, that's what Dr. [Anthony] Fauci is talking about every day," Cuomo said.

"We're still working with the federal government to find more ventilators but that is our single greatest challenge, are the ventilators. The ICU beds, that really means a ventilated bed. This is the number one piece of equipment that we need," he added.

On Monday, Trump and Cuomo engaged in a brief public spat after the president claimed on Fox News that the governor is "supposed to buying his own ventilators," citing a report which was widely dismissed as false. Trump claimed without evidence that Cuomo could have purchased 16,000 ventilators in 2015 but declined to do so at the time. A spokesman for Cuomo responded to the president's allegation, telling The Hill Tuesday, "[Trump] obviously didn't read the document he's citing."

jared kushner andrew cuomo coronavirus
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said fellow New Yorker Jared Kushner, who is a senior advisor to father-in-law President Donald Trump, has been "extraordinarily helpful" in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. EVAN VUCCI - Pool/Getty Images