(TMU) — New York’s month-long struggle with the coronavirus has left a devastating mark on the state, having already claimed more than 5,589 lives. On Tuesday Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an additional 731 deaths from the disease, the highest daily death toll yet in the hardest-hit U.S. state.
With deaths numbering over 500 every day, it’s more than clear that the Empire State may need all of the help that it can get—especially as the federal government finds its hands full as death rates surge in New Jersey, New Orleans, and other urban centers across the country.
And the need for urgent aid to New York certainly hasn’t been lost on Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai and fellow Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma.
The New York Daily News reports that Taiwanese-Canadian billionaire Tsai and fellow Chinese business magnate Jack Ma have donated a total of 2,000 ventilators to those in need.
Since the coronavirus pandemic emerged in China in December, ventilators have been one of the most critical tools used by hospitals to keep CoViD-19 patients alive. With anywhere between 21 percent to 31 percent of patients requiring hospitalization and 5 percent to 11 percent of patients requiring intensive care, the pandemic has exposed the U.S. health care system’s inability to provide the breathing-assistance machine to all those who need them—placing medical professionals in the heart-breaking position of choosing who lives and dies.
The critical lack of the life-saving devices along with sluggish support from the federal government forced Cuomo on Friday to sign an executive order authorizing the state to seize ventilators and redistribute them on the basis of where they are needed most.
In a tweet, Cuomo wrote:
“We do not have enough ventilators. Period. I am signing an Executive Order allowing the state to take ventilators and redistribute to hospitals in need.
The National Guard will be mobilized to move ventilators to where they are urgently required to save lives.”
However, last week Tsai and Ma donated 1,000 ventilators and 2.6 million face masks to the Mount Sinai hospital system through their private foundations.
On Saturday, another 1,000 ventilators arrived at JFK Airport in the hard-hit borough of Queens after Tsai and the government of China collaborated to deliver the crucial devices to the state.
According to an anonymous source speaking to the South China Morning Post, the value of the donated devices amounts to about $50 million.
Additionally, the Brooklyn Nets put aside their rivalry with the Manhattan-based New York Knicks to work alongside the NBA and Beijing to contribute one million masks to essential workers toiling on the frontlines of the pandemic.
And with the unemployment rate skyrocketing to around 13 percent according to the New York Times—mainly due to a global economic crisis compounded by the novel virus—Tsai has also pledged to provide hourly workers at the Nets’ home court, Barclays Center, with their typical wages at least through May while the arena is indefinitely shuttered.
The donations reportedly required top-level, back-room negotiations to overcome protectionist barriers between the U.S. and China.
However, the gesture is a rare yet welcome example of binational collaboration in the fight against the coronavirus, especially as White House officials attempt to blame the People’s Republic of China for the outbreak of the worst pandemic in over a century.
President Donald Trump greeted the donations as “a big deal” that could “make a significant difference” in the U.S. fight to minimize losses inflicted by the novel virus.
“Jack Ma is a friend of mine and he’s made it very possible to get about 1,000 ventilators from China.
But that was from him and my other friend [Tsai] that was really a gift. And we appreciate it very much.”