The state hardest hit by the coronavirus is showing signs of improvement, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo isn’t making any promises about rebooting the economy anytime soon. “The worst is over if we continue to do what we’re doing,” Cuomo said on MSNBC Tuesday.
The state’s governor warned New Yorkers on Wednesday to prepare for a “new normal” and declared that the fight against the virus won’t end until a vaccine is available, which could take 18 months.
Cuomo: life on hold until vaccine arrives
While Cuomo has received glowing press coverage, his state has far more coronavirus cases than any other state in the Union, and indeed more than any country in the world. As of Wednesday evening, New York had over 200,000 positive cases and more than 11,000 deaths. The country, overall, had some 630,000 cases and 28,000 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins tracker, which works out to about a third of all infections and deaths. Talk about failure.
According to the latest health data, the state had over 11,000 new cases on Tuesday. Still, Cuomo is telling New Yorkers to appreciate signs of progress and to vigilantly continue social distancing, as the rates of new hospitalizations and deaths appear to be stabilizing.
“The caveat swallows the premise. The worst is over if we continue to do what we’re doing,” was how he put it on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday, emphasizing the progress that still needs to be made.
How big is that caveat? Pretty big. At a press conference on Wednesday, Cuomo set a rather far-reaching benchmark for when the fight against the pandemic can be considered over: until New Yorkers are “100% safe” with a vaccine, life won’t be going back to normal in the Empire State.
“It’s over when people know I’m 100% safe and I don’t have to worry about this. When does that happen? When we have a vaccine?” he said. “Until you have a vaccine, until you have the medical treatment, what do you do? How are you building the bridge? Well, it’s going to be a phased reopening.”
Cuomo: life will not go back to normal
Such open-ended pronouncements worry many Americans outside New York, which has set the model for how much of the country is approaching the virus, despite its outsized number of infections and deaths. Cuomo is just one governor who has started discussing how to re-open his state’s economy, as government leaders weigh a trade-off between the economy and public safety.
For the most part, Democratic governors are following the rule of thumb set by Trump’s virus expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, with most emphasizing the need for widespread testing capabilities before opening the economy. Considering the epic mistakes with testing at the beginning of the crisis, when such testing will be possible is at best a moving target.
Cuomo also said that he will issue an executive order requiring all New Yorkers to wear masks in public. As for the economy, New York state will pursue a “phased” re-opening, Cuomo said, rating different businesses to determine how “essential” they are and what risk they pose for infections.
This all comes as more than 17 million Americans have lost their jobs, as a debate has grown more vigorous — with protests in some areas — over lockdowns that have caused a steep, and artificially created, financial crisis. President Trump is eager to open the economy, but Cuomo and other governors have pushed back on the president’s hopes of having America up and running by May 1. “Where we’re going, it’s not a reopening in that we’re going to reopen what was. We’re going to a different place,” Cuomo said.
Even though things are improving in New York, it appears Andrew Cuomo is reluctant to give up his newfound media attention by taking steps to actually move past the crisis. Like some other mediocre politicians, Cuomo is taking advantage of a crisis to inflate his profile and keep residents of his state in a condition of uncertainty. Disturbing.