Cuomo dodges covid fallout: ‘Not my responsibility’ to mitigate spread, it was ‘above my pay grade’

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that it wasn’t his “responsibility” to act more quickly to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, seemingly suggesting that it was President Trump’s fault the outbreak was so deadly in his state.

During his daily coronavirus press conference, the Democratic governor estimated that 100,000 people could eventually die from the virus but hinted that the number would have been so high if the Trump administration had acted sooner.

“If this country knew more and knew it earlier, I think we could’ve saved many, many more lives,” he said.

“I mean, if you think about it in retrospect, the virus is in China, November, December, everybody knows that,” he continued. We do a China travel ban February 1 (actually, President Trump announced the ban on Jan. 31) … We do a European travel ban March 16, okay?

“By the time you get to March 16 — starts in China November, December, you think have January, February, March. We now know that the virus left China, got on a plane, and went to Europe. And from Europe, the virus got on a plane, came to the United States, and came to New York,” Cuomo added, noting further that by then, 3 million Europeans had traveled to his state.

“If you — if you knew that the virus left China November, December and went to Europe, you would have done a European travel ban December 31. China travel ban December 31. How many lives could you have saved? So I think it’s actually — when you start to do Monday morning quarterbacking, I think it goes back before that.

“Now, who should have known, it’s above my pay grade as governor of one state,” Cuomo claimed. “But what federal agency, what international health organization? I don’t know. It’s not what I do. It’s not my responsibility. But somebody has to answer that question.”

In fact, there were additional facts about the deadly nature of the coronavirus that were known at the time of the European travel ban — mid-March — that did not seem to impact some of Cuomo’s decisions.

For example, it’s now being widely reported that on March 25, Cuomo’s state Department of Health issued an order, on his guidance, that nursing homes in the state had to accept COVID-19-infected patients, despite the fact that it was well-known older people and those with co-morbidities were far more susceptible to contracting and dying from the disease.

“During this global health emergency, all NHs [nursing homes] must comply with the expedited receipt of residents returning from hospitals,” the March 25 health department order said.

How can President Trump or his administration be blamed for that decision, which one GOP congressional candidate from New York says was responsible for more than 4,900 deaths so far?

Cuomo was taken to task by one of the state’s congressional representatives, Republican Elise Stefanik.

By contrast, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis saw the same information that was available to all governors very early in outbreak and made a completely different set of policy decisions designed to specifically protect his state’s most vulnerable populations, especially those living in eldercare facilities.

“People were predicting us to be worse than New York, like another Italy,” DeSantis told Fox News’ Sean Hannity last month, in response to a question about the virus’ potential spread to Florida’s high retirement-age population.

“They said that this week, one of the newspapers in Florida said we would have 464,000 people hospitalized. The actual number is 2,200. So we beat that by 462,000,” he said then.

“But what we did very early was focus on the populations who are most at risk: Our senior citizens, and particularly our nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” DeSantis explained, pointing out that he required screenings of employees early on while suspending visits to eldercare facilities to stall the spread.


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Jon Dougherty


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