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Leaked audio of a conference call Gov. Andrew Cuomo had with Jewish leaders last week captured the Democrat admitting the new COVID lockdowns in New York are a “fear based response.”
The Orthodox Jewish community has been under fire in New York City, with officials saying they are largely responsible for an outbreak of several COVID-19 “clusters” that have cropped up.
Cuomo mentioned Mayor Bill de Blasio on the phone call, saying the policy limiting the number of people at religious gatherings was the mayor’s policy and he was only trying to make it better.
“I don’t disagree with you. And look, I’m a hundred percent frank and candid. This is not a highly nuanced, sophisticated response. This is a fear-driven response,” Cuomo said. “You know, this is not a policy being written by a scalpel. This is a policy being cut a hatchet, it’s just a very blunt — I didn’t propose this, you know. It was proposed by the mayor in the city. I’m trying to sharpen it and make it a better. But it’s out of fear. People see the numbers going up, ‘Close everything! Close everything!’ It’s not the best way to do it, but it is a fear-driven response. The virus scares people.”
The governor talked about a “smarter” response once the numbers start going down and that authorities have to do “everything we can” to make that happen.
“Hopefully we get the numbers down in the zip codes, the anxiety comes down, and then we can have a smarter, more tailored approach,” Cuomo said. “Your point is right. Why close every school? Why don’t you test the schools and close the ones that have a problem? I know, but — the truth is, I don’t know that we have the resources to do that now, but I can tell you honestly that the fear is too high to do anything other than let’s do everything we can to get the infection rate down now, close the doors, close the windows. That’s where we are.”
Jewish leaders accused Cuomo of stabbing them in the back, according to the Jewish newspaper Hamodia, which obtained a full recording of the call.
Cuomo said he would “limit houses of worship to 50% occupancy in areas seeing a COVID-19 uptick, just hours before a public press conference in which he limited it to 10 attendees,” the paper reported.
“The current rule … in any indoor gathering … it’s 50% of capacity,” the governor said. “That’s the current law. We have to follow that law. If we don’t follow that law then the infection rate gets worse. Then we’re gonna have to go back to close down. And nobody wants to do that. But I need your help in getting the rate down, and the rate will come down, if we follow the rules on the mask and the social distancing and the 50%.”
Later that same day, Gov. Cuomo announced restrictions on houses of worship to 10 people. Cuomo also said he may “close the synagogues” due to the lack of compliance with coronavirus restrictions.
Intense protests broke out in the ultra-Orthodox community as a result of the move.
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