Cuomo sends COVID-19 aid to Florida while slamming federal stimulus effort

(Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

As the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths across New York continue to improve, as reported by the state, Governor Andrew Cuomo is making good on one pledge made early in the pandemic: he’s ordering aid to be sent to Florida.

At the time when cases were skyrocketing, Cuomo’s administration scrabbled for ventilators and personal protective equipment in preparation for a major spike hospital system overload. While that did not happen to the extent the state was bracing for, Cuomo announced Wednesday in a press call that thousands of units of supplies would be sent to Saint Augustine, Fla.

Along with personnel, New York is sending about 7,500 test kits, 7,500 gowns, 11,000 pairs of gloves, 7,500 N95 masks, 124,000 surgical masks, 7,500 face shields, 1,250 gallons of our New York state-made hand sanitizer, Cuomo says. His highest praise went to Mayor Rick Kriseman’s action implementing similar mandates to New York.

“The stay-at-home order works, the masks work, we should have taken this seriously sooner. I also agree with you on the young people. That’s where we’re seeing the increase in the numbers. We’re struggling with it here in New York with bars and restaurants,” Cuomo said.

While Florida across the board has become one of the national epicenters for COVID-19 following refusal by Governor Ron DeSantis to impose any measures to curb the spread of the disease. Florida is in the company of 33 other states where travelers to New York are required to quarantine for 14 days.

“We wish all of Florida quite frankly would have a mask mandate. I think our state would be doing better,” Kriseman said before turning to the testing site. “It is in a neighborhood where we have disproportionately impacted zip codes, a couple of zip codes where we are seeing our highest levels of positive testing and they are the neighborhoods of our largest minority population and so for us to be able to do testing there and be able to get the data related to that test really will help us in trying to address and target what steps we need to take to try and reduce the positivity in those zip codes too.”

Financial aid to states left out of the U.S. Senate’s latest stimulus proposal, the HEALS Act, was still on Governor Cuomo’s mind Wednesday as he laid out that without federal funding to New York, expansion projects for JFK and LaGuardia airports will be forced to halt. The MTA needs $4 billion to “keep the lights on” as MTA Chairman Pat Foye has put it, and Port Authority requires $3 billion for operations.

“Goldman Sachs analysts assert that the measures that Congress has passed to date will cover less than half the expected state shortfalls, even when combined with state rainy day funds,” Cuomo said in separate statement. “Moody’s Analytics has noted that without federal revenue replacement, state and local governments would need to cut more than $500 billion—shaving two full percentage points off the GDP and eliminating more than 3 million jobs.”