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Andrew Cuomo is no hero. He's to blame for New York's coronavirus catastrophe

Andrew Cuomo is no hero. He's to blame for New York's coronavirus catastropheHis record was terrible before coronavirus, but his abysmal handling of the crisis should get him thrown out of officeAndrew Cuomo may be the most popular politician in the country. His approval ratings have hit all-time highs thanks to his Covid-19 response. Some Democrats have discussed him as a possible replacement for Joe Biden, due to Biden’s perceived weakness as a nominee. And there have even been some unfortunate tributes to Cuomo’s alleged sex appeal.All of which is bizarre, because Cuomo should be one of the most loathed officials in America right now. ProPublica recently released a report outlining catastrophic missteps by Cuomo and the New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, which probably resulted in many thousands of needless coronavirus cases. ProPublica offers some appalling numbers contrasting what happened in New York with the outbreak in California. By mid-May, New York City alone had almost 20,000 deaths, while in San Francisco there had been only 35, and New York state as a whole suffered 10 times as many deaths as California.Federal failures played a role, of course, but this tragedy was absolutely due, in part, to decisions by the governor. Cuomo initially “reacted to De Blasio’s idea for closing down New York City with derision”, saying it “was dangerous” and “served only to scare people”. He said the “seasonal flu was a graver worry”. A spokesperson for Cuomo “refused to say if the governor had ever read the state’s pandemic plan”. Later, Cuomo would blame the press, including the New York Times for failing to say “Be careful, there’s a virus in China that may be in the United States?” even though the Times wrote nearly 500 stories on the virus before the state acted. Experts told ProPublica that “had New York imposed its extreme social distancing measures a week or two earlier, the death toll might have been cut by half or more”.But delay was not the only screw-up. Elderly prisoners have died of coronavirus because New York has failed to act on their medical parole requests. As Business Insider documented:“Testing was slow. Nonprofit social-service agencies that serve the most vulnerable couldn’t get answers either. And medical experts like the former CDC director Tom Frieden said ‘so many deaths could have been prevented’ had New York issued its stay-at-home order just ‘days earlier’ than it did. On March 19, when New York’s schools had already been closed, Cuomo said ‘in many ways, the fear is more dangerous than the virus.’”The governor has failed to take responsibility for the obvious failures, consistently blaming others and at one point even saying “governors don’t do pandemics”. (Actually, some governors just don’t read their state’s pandemic plans.) But much of the press has ignored this, focusing instead on Cuomo’s aesthetic presentation: his poise during press conferences, his dramatic statements about “taking responsibility” (even when he obviously hasn’t), and his invisible good looks.> Cuomo’s record was shameful long before coronavirus beganThe mask mural is yet another publicity stunt mistaken by the press as a sign of leadership. On 29 April, Cuomo unveiled a wall of handmade cloth masks that had been sent to his office by concerned citizens all over America. He called it “a self-portrait of America. You know what that spells? It spells love.” Since the arrangement of masks doesn’t form words, the mural doesn’t actually spell anything, but it is a perfect symbol of Cuomo’s leadership failures. Handmade cloth face coverings are not as effective as N95 masks, of course, but if unsuitable for healthcare workers they would still have been perfectly appropriate to distribute to New Yorkers (some of whom have been brutally arrested for not wearing masks). But Cuomo, rather than putting the needs of New Yorkers first, chose to tack hundreds of cloth masks on a wall as a monument to himself.Cuomo’s record was shameful long before coronavirus began. He enabled the IDC (Independent Democratic Conference), a group of conservative Democratic state lawmakers, in allying with the Republican minority to block progressive legislation. (Cuomo denies any role in the IDC, but that stretches credulity.) Before the pandemic, he pushed through Medicaid cuts which shut down necessary hospital space in the name of “efficiency” despite the warnings of medical professionals. And on 3 April, as 3,000 New Yorkers already lay dead from the virus and hospitals like Elmhurst in Queens were overwhelmed with cases, Cuomo forced through further Medicaid cuts, slashing $ 400m from hospital budgets.As the state now staggers to its feet, Cuomo has partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to “reimagine education” (which almost certainly means privatization), and with the ex-Google chief Eric Schmidt to – as Naomi Klein puts it – “permanently integrat[e] technology into every aspect of civic life”. All of this has happened without the democratic input of New Yorkers, who would likely prefer that the progressive legislators they elected could govern without interference, that their hospitals have enough money to function and that billionaires don’t infiltrate and control every element of civic life.There’s something disturbing about Cuomo being hailed as the hero of the pandemic when he should rightly be one of the villains. As Business Insider notes, he is now only able to attain praise for his actions because his earlier failures made those actions necessary. He’s lauded for addressing a problem that he himself partly caused. Of course, part of this is because Donald Trump has bungled the coronavirus response even more badly, so that Cuomo – by not being a complete buffoon – looks like a capable statesman by contrast. But this is the problem: for too long, Democrats have measured their politicians by “whether they are better than Republicans”. This sets the bar very low indeed, and means that Democrats end up settling for incompetent and amoral leaders who betray progressive values again and again. * Lyta Gold is the managing editor and amusements editor of Current Affairs. Nathan Robinson is the editor of Current Affairs and a Guardian US columnist

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Gov. Cuomo Is Blaming the New York Times for His Own Coronavirus Mistakes

Gov. Cuomo Is Blaming the New York Times for His Own Coronavirus MistakesNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo has an answer for critics who say the state didn’t react to the novel coronavirus quickly enough: Blame The New York Times.Over the past several days, the governor has repeatedly used his press conferences to take shots at the self-described “Paper of Record,” lumping the publication in with other official organizations that were slow to react to the spread of COVID-19.“Where were all the experts?” Cuomo said during a press conference earlier this week. “Where was The New York Times? Where was The Wall Street Journal? Where was all the bugle blowers who should say, ‘Be careful, there’s a virus in China that may be in the United States.’”On Thursday, the governor got more specific. When asked about his response to critics who said other states were quicker to adopt measures to curb the spread of the virus, Cuomo instead said the paper’s editorial writers should be blamed along with other organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that supposedly did not sound the alarms early enough about the dangers of the virus.“They didn’t write an editorial saying I should close down until after I closed down, right?” he complained. “Where was The New York Times editorial board?” Cuomo continued moments later. “Everybody missed it. Governors don’t do global pandemics, that’s not in my job description.”Either Cuomo didn’t actually read the Times’ coverage, or he has selective amnesia about the paper’s articles and the recommendations in op-eds when contrasted with his own response. Beginning in mid-January, the Times has run multiple stories daily about the spread of the virus, tracing the pandemic from its initial outbreak in Wuhan, China, and chronicling scientists’ warnings about the disease and the first cases and deaths in many countries. Later that month, the paper was running at least half a dozen increasingly alarming items per day about the spread of the virus, particularly in Asia, and its effects on global markets.At the time, some of the paper’s opinion columnists had a message as well: The threat of the virus is real, and scientists need to be driving policy. In one column that ran on January 23, the same day Wuhan was sealed off from the rest of China by its government, Dr. Saad B. Omer, the director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, warned about the danger of the novel virus. He argued that politicians need to let scientists dictate policy on issues: “border screenings, travel restrictions and potential quarantine have major public health consequences, and they should be driven by science and emerging biological and epidemiological evidence.”“We are once again faced with the outbreak of an emerging pathogen with potentially global implications,” he wrote. “We don’t know how bad it will get. But there is no excuse for not getting ready for the worst. We already know the consequences of inaction.”In January, before there were any confirmed known cases in New York, the Times ran at least ten opinion pieces speculating about the dangers of the virus and how the U.S. should react. The editorial board itself warned about the risks of the virus on Jan. 28, saying the U.S. needed to heed the concerns of health experts. And by mid-February, the Times opinion section ran op-eds arguing how “the rapid—sometimes necessarily draconian—response of governments and health authorities has made a dent in transmission.”In an email to The Daily Beast, the governor’s senior adviser Rich Azzopardi reiterated Cuomo’s claim that the paper’s editorial board did not call for travel bans or a shutdown order until five days after the governor put New York on “pause.”“For all of the Monday morning quarterbacking, it’s important to acknowledge the role everyone played, and didn’t play,” he said. “No one is saying articles weren’t written on the topic generally, but the point is, no one—not the experts, not the major health organizations, not the media who covered them, even The New York Times—were sounding the alarm on the potential for thousands of cases in the New York Metropolitan area before any testing confirmed a single case.”While there were certainly mixed messages and little outright direction from the U.S. government, New York was still slower to react than other states and countries. Infectious disease experts and doctors urged the closing of schools for days before the state eventually announced such action (Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said in late February that states should be prepared to close schools). The state government also dragged its feet as top health officials suggested that it was possible that many states would see stay-at-home measures. By the middle of the month, as New York attempted to mount a response to the virus, Cuomo was still feuding with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, declaring, “There’s not going to be any ‘you must stay in your house’ rule” (which he, in effect, reversed course on three days later when he put the state on “pause”).And while Cuomo’s public approval rating has jumped and he has become a media darling and Democratic Party hero, in the months after the Times’ coverage, New York state still lagged behind some of the other localities affected by the coronavirus. Though the state’s cases were growing, New York waited until after Washington and California had adopted widespread social-distancing measures to institute similar policies. In public statements, Cuomo attempted to reassure the public by proclaiming that the virus would not hit New York as particularly hard. “When you’re saying, what happened in other countries versus what happened here, we don’t even think it’s going to be as bad as it was in other countries,” Cuomo said in early March.“New York City as a whole was late in social measures,” the city’s former deputy health commissioner Isaac B. Weisfuse said in a recent interview. “Any after-action review of the pandemic in New York City will focus on that issue. It has become the major issue in the transmission of the virus.”Cuomo’s complaints about the press have not, however, reached the level of pettiness displayed daily by President Donald Trump, who continues to use the pandemic as an opportunity to complain about media coverage of his administration. As The Daily Beast reported this week, the president even encouraged his friend and unofficial adviser, Fox News host Sean Hannity, to explore legal action against the paper for its critical coverage.And certainly Cuomo realizes the paper’s editorial board and opinion section have become easy punching bags for public figures of all political persuasions.Over the past year several years, the paper’s op-ed section has been admonished for serious errors and bizarre editorial decisions. The Times opinion section hired and quickly fired a tech columnist who had a public friendship with a neo-Nazi. Another op-ed columnist was widely ridiculed for tweeting that an American-born Olympic ice skater was an immigrant. Climate-change skeptic Bret Stephens has repeatedly generated controversy from his perch at the Times, from peddling arguments with whiffs of race-science to attempting to get a George Washington University professor reprimanded by his bosses for mean tweets. The editorial board’s unprecedented endorsement of two Democratic presidential primary candidates (who both went on to lose without winning a single state) was also widely criticized for its lack of relevance or teeth in a crucial election year. The Times was also far from perfect on the issue of the virus. The opinion section has published several columns downplaying the severity of the virus or suggesting that the measures pushed by top global epidemiologists were useless. But the depth of reporting on the virus on the paper’s news side, coupled with the warnings on the opinion side, do not make fair scapegoats for questions about the governor’s response to the virus.“Public health professionals will also need to work with political leaders to make hard decisions on if or when large events should be canceled, workers should be told to telecommute, schools should change the way they operate or schools should close,” the Times opinion section warned in March, weeks before the governor put his state on “pause.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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Andrew Cuomo wishes he had 'blown the bugle' on coronavirus earlier

Andrew Cuomo wishes he had 'blown the bugle' on coronavirus earlierNew York governor discussed US reactions to first news of the outbreak from China in interview with Axios on HBO * Coronavirus – live US updates * Live global updates * See all our coronavirus coverageNew York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has said he wishes he had “blown the bugle” about Covid-19 earlier.According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, New York state has confirmed more than 290,000 coronavirus cases and approaching 23,000 deaths. Countries such as France, Italy and Spain have recorded more deaths but not by much, and New York City alone has the fifth-highest death total in the world, with the UK in fourth.Speaking to Axios on HBO, Cuomo discussed US reactions to the first news of the outbreak, from China in December.“When we heard in December that China had a virus problem,” he said, “and China said basically, ‘It was under control, don’t worry,’ we should’ve worried.“When China says, ‘Don’t worry, I have a fire in my backyard,’ you don’t hang up the phone and go back to sleep, right? You get out of your house and you walk two houses over to make sure I have the fire under control. Where was every other country walking out of their home to make sure China had it under control?”Cuomo added: “I wish someone stood up and blew the bugle. And if no one was going to blow the bugle, I would feel much better if I was a bugle blower last December and January … I would feel better sitting here today saying, ‘I blew the bugle about Wuhan province in January.’ I can’t say that.”Cuomo’s handling of the outbreak has nonetheless met with widespread approval, even fueling talk of an unlikely presidential run – speculation he has consistently turned down.The governor has given daily media briefings widely praised and contrasted with those delivered by Donald Trump at the White House, and demonstrated a grip on governance of his state that has kept it on lockdown while he manages its often fractious relationship with the federal government.Still, questions are increasingly being asked about whether New York’s heavy death toll might have been avoided.Cuomo first voiced fears the New York healthcare system would be overwhelmed but that has not turned out to be so.“I don’t think New Yorkers feel or Americans feel that government failed them here,” Cuomo said. “I think they feel good about what government has done … their healthcare system did respond. This was not Italy, with all due respect … There were not people in hallways who didn’t get healthcare treatment.”Cuomo also said he thought the US would be better prepared for the next such public health crisis.“This will change society,” he said. “Society will not allow this to happen again. They will want to be more prepared. They will want to move more quickly. And government will follow that social instinct.”Cuomo is now considering how to reopen the state economy, a process he has indicated will be done in stages.

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New York Governor Cuomo to extend stay-at-home order in some parts of state

New York Governor Cuomo to extend stay-at-home order in some parts of stateCuomo also told a daily briefing that New York has now tested 7,500 people for antibodies against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and that 14.9 percent tested positive, indicating they were infected and survived. Cuomo said the larger sample added to his belief that the fatality rate from COVID-19, calculated by dividing the number of deaths by the infection rate implied by the antibody testing, may be lower than some experts had feared. "The death rate is much, much lower because it changes the denominator," Cuomo said.



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‘The Worst Is Over’: Cuomo Looks at Life After Virus as New York Death Toll Tops 10,000

‘The Worst Is Over’: Cuomo Looks at Life After Virus as New York Death Toll Tops 10,000More than 10,000 New Yorkers have died due to the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday as he tried to assure his state that “the worst is over” in the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States. “I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart. I believe we can start on the path to normalcy,” Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany after noting the death toll reflects a “horrific level of pain and grief and sorrow.” “The terrible news is as terrible as it gets, and the worst news I’ve had to deliver to the people of this state as governor of New York, and the worst news I’ve had to live with on a personal level,” he added.On Easter Sunday, 671 more people died from the virus, bringing the total fatalities across the state to 10,056 and the number of infected individuals to 190,288—accounting for almost 35 percent of the total reported cases in the U.S. Cuomo Says Coronavirus Is ‘More Dangerous’ Than We Thought as N.Y. Cases Jump OvernightDespite the devastating new milestone, Cuomo declared that the most horrific phase of the deadly pandemic has passed in New York. Overnight, the daily number of new deaths had dropped, the number of newly hospitalized patients is at the lowest the Empire State has seen in two weeks, and the number of patients on ventilators has also decreased, the governor said. He added that the continued high death toll is a result of patients succumbing to the virus after falling sick weeks ago, and he praised the “heroic efforts of health-care workers, police officers, transportation workers who showed up to drive those trains and buses every day” in helping the state to flatten the curve so quickly. “The curve continues to flatten,” Cuomo said, later warning that “the worst is over, and can be over unless we do something reckless.”“You can turn those numbers in two or three days by being reckless,” he added. “The number is down because we brought the number down… a lot of pain and suffering did that.”Cuomo said officials are already preparing a “gradual phased process” to reopen the state but it will rely on widespread and “aggressive” antibody and diagnostic testing. Comparing re-starting economic activity in the state to “opening a valve,” Cuomo said his administration is determined to “do it carefully, do it slowly, and do it intelligently.”“None of this has been done before,” Cuomo said. “Also, you look around the world, you see warning signs from countries that have reopened.”Cuomo: New York Saw ‘Deadliest Day’ in Coronavirus Pandemic But ‘We’re Flattening the Curve’The Empire State is also pushing for testing that will ultimately allow residents who have already had the virus—or are immune to it—to return to public life sooner. Ideally, Cuomo said every New Yorker would take an antibody or diagnostic test before returning to work, or entering a nursing home or hospital. The New York State Department of Health has developed a COVID-19 antibody test, and state officials are working with the FDA to get it approved; however, New York currently has the capacity to do only 300 tests per day.In addition to requesting “millions” more tests, Cuomo called on the Trump administration to use the Defense Production Act to compel companies to make tests because he doesn’t think the private sector will do it on its own. He added that even with testing, the United States won’t be able to move past the virus until a vaccine is developed in the next year to 18 months. “You’re going to need federal support and you’re going to need legislation that attends to the need,” he said, adding that he plans to speak to governors in neighboring states to develop coordinated reopening plans. “This is a time for smart, competent, effective government… the optimum is a geographically coordinated plan.”Cuomo and five other governors announced their plans for a coordinated effort in a Monday press conference, stating that New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Delaware—also known as the “COVID corridor”—plan to weigh the public health risks together before allowing companies to resume operations. By working with their neighboring states, Cuomo said, they hope to minimize the resurgence of the virus that easily crosses state boundaries. “I think this regional compact is premised on the idea that you’re not going to have a healthy economy if you have an unhealthy population, so we’ve got to do both,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said on Monday. The decision to work together came only hours after President Donald Trump tweeted that only he has the power to “open up” the United States. Despite stressing that he is not “interested in political opinions,” in regard to opening back up for business, Cuomo did comment during his Monday morning press conference on the possibility that Trump may fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.New York Has Seen Worst of Coronavirus but Testing Is Major Roadblock to Reopening“As you’re walking through these uncharted waters, I think he’s been extraordinary,” Cuomo said after previously stating he is only “interested in what the experts say” about the outbreak. “As crazy as things get in this world… I can’t imagine that would ever happen.”But before officials can devote their attention to testing, New York still needs to combat the continued surge and relieve hospitals, makeshift morgues, and funeral homes that continue to be overwhelmed by the pandemic’s effects.Cuomo said Thursday that “about 2,000 people per day are walking in [to hospitals] and are being diagnosed with COVID,” putting already overwhelmed and understaffed hospitals in duress. According to one NYU Langone doctor, while New York state officials are now looking for life after the virus, medical workers on the frontlines of this highly infectious virus are still trying to help patients with limited protective equipment. “New York may be seeing a plateau, but hospitals are still seeing crazy numbers of patients,” the doctor told The Daily Beast on Monday after Cuomo’s press conference. “We’re just struggling to keep out heads above water every day, and while the worst may be over for the state—I can’t say health-care workers are anywhere near a reprieve from the madness.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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As New York Posts Highest One-Day Death Toll, Cuomo Says No Victim Died ‘Because We Couldn’t Provide Care’

As New York Posts Highest One-Day Death Toll, Cuomo Says No Victim Died ‘Because We Couldn’t Provide Care’New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that no victim of the coronavirus has died because the state could not provide health care for them, even as New York posted its highest number of deaths in one day."You can't save everyone. This virus is very good at what it does, and it kills vulnerable people," Cuomo said at his daily briefing providing updates on the outbreak. "The question is, are you saving everyone you can save? And there the answer is yes, and I take some solace in that fact.""Our health care system is operating. I don’t believe we’ve lost a single person because we couldn’t provide care," the Democratic governor continued. "People we lost we couldn’t save despite our best efforts."A record 731 New Yorkers died between Monday and Tuesday, Cuomo reported. He cautioned that the death rate is a "lagging indicator," meaning that those who died are often sick for weeks before they pass. More than 138,000 people in the state have been infected with the respiratory illness, with 8,157 new positive cases on Tuesday, the lowest rate in a week. The number of patients being hospitalized and moved to intensive care has dropped as well.The governor warned Thursday that New York state only had enough ventilators for six days and was considering how to increase the supply. The state released 400 ventilators to New York City a day earlier. Cuomo has worked to get as many ventilators as possible to the city, which has emerged as the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak with nearly half the total deaths in the country. On Friday, the governor issued an executive order allowing the state to take ventilators and personal protective equipment from hospitals and transfer them to places that need them.New York has also received medical equipment from other states and countries, including Oregon and China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated.



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COVID-19 deaths climb in NY; Chris Cuomo tests positive

COVID-19 deaths climb in NY; Chris Cuomo tests positiveMore than 300 New Yorkers died from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, a somber-sounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday as temporary hospital beds were made available to help relieve the stress on city hospitals inundated with virus patients. City officials announced Tuesday that 250 more ambulances and 500 paramedics and EMTs are headed to New York to help manage record numbers of calls for assistance. Deaths from the coronavirus continued to climb steeply in New York, topping 1,500 by Tuesday, according to Cuomo.



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