New York’s scramble to find enough breathing machines to treat its rapidly expanding legion of coronavirus patients illustrates a problem vexing hospitals and governments worldwide.

In his nationally televised briefings this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made desperate pleas to other states and the federal government to send breathing machines that the state will return when demand slows down.

Cuomo’s plea has proven to be a tough sell. For one, the devices are already in short supply nationally. And medical professionals and officials in other states are expecting to be inundated with coronavirus cases themselves relatively soon. They aren’t easy to quickly manufacture either, despite efforts underway by several major companies.

The machines also known as ventilators are necessary for severely ill

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