‘There is no time for politics’: Cuomo says partisanship will make COVID-19 pandemic even worse in America

Medical workers respond at Maimonides Medical Center during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID19) in the Brooklyn borough of New York
Medical workers respond at Maimonides Medical Center during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID19) in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., April 14, 2020. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

A day after taking President Trump to task for mean tweets about him, Governor Andrew Cuomo sought national unity during his press briefing Saturday.

The governor spent a part of his Friday briefing lambasting Trump for lashing out at him on Twitter, with the president claiming Cuomo “should spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘complaining.'” Cuomo responded by telling Trump to “get up and go to work” if he was watching television, and mocked the president for appearing not to know the guidance provided by his own Coronavirus Task Force.

On Saturday, however, Cuomo took a more subdued tone when addressing the rapid politicization of the coronavirus crisis. Trump supporters have protested outside the state capitols of Democratic governors this week, demanding an end to social distancing and business closure orders; the president himself tweeted calls to “liberate” such states, which some critics interpreted as an act of instigation.

“The emotion in this country is as high as I can recall,” Cuomo observed on April 18. “People are frustrated, we’re anxious, we’re scared, we’re angry, we’ve never been through this before. On every level, this has been a terrible experience.”

Without mentioning Trump’s name, the governor asserted that the situation will only get worse if partisanship mars the response to what he called the greatest challenge the United States has faced since World War II.

“In the midst of this, there is no time for politics,” Cuomo said. “How does this situation get worse and get worse quickly? If you politicize all that emotion. We cannot go there.”

The governor again publicly appealed to the federal government for assistance in expanding testing across New York state — a critical measure toward reopening the economy.

Cuomo stated that many of the 300 private labs in the state have the equipment and capacity to dramatically ramp up testing — but a shortage in necessary reagents critical to the testing process is standing in the way.

The reagents are produced by the same companies which produce the testing equipment. When state officials contacted these manufacturers about securing more reagents, Cuomo said, they were told that the reagents were unavailable from other countries at the time, or that the federal government has directed reagents to be shipped to certain American locations.

“These manufacturers are regulated by the federal government, and the federal government clearly has a role in addressing this crisis,” Cuomo said. “We need help on that supply chain … and we need coordination and basic partnership.”

The governor added that the federal government needs to secure billions of dollars in additional relief for states across the Union to address the crisis. On Friday, the National Governors Association publicly called on Congress and the president to approve a new $500 billion economic plan.

As for the number of coronavirus cases in New York State, Cuomo noted there were again drops in the number of hospitalizations, intensive care admissions and intubations — all signs that New York state may be past the peak of the crisis at last.

However, more than 2,000 New Yorkers were hospitalized Friday with new coronavirus cases. That rate, Cuomo said, is about where it was in late March, when coronavirus cases began soaring. 

There were also 540 coronavirus-related deaths Friday, down from the 630 fatalities reported Thursday.

“It’s not as high as it was, [but] still, 540 people died,” Cuomo lamented.

Notes: Cuomo thanked the federal government for providing 1.5 million cloth masks to New York state. These masks will be distributed to the public. An executive order that took effect Friday evening requires all New Yorkers to wear masks while out in public areas where social distancing may not be possible. … The governor is signing an executive order Saturday permitting couples to secure marriage licenses remotely, and allowing county clerks to officiate weddings through video conferencing. … Secretary to the Governor Melissa de Rosa also announced that prisoners over 55 years of age, guilty of a crime other than a felony or sexual assault, with less than 90 days remaining on their sentence will be released as a health precaution. This will apply to more than 200 non-violent offenders currently doing time.