Cuomo calls to open up the economy now. What has changed?


Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for New York’s economy to reopen following months of strict lockdowns and amid an alarming surge in the number of new COVID-19 cases.

After enforcing stringent lockdowns and coronavirus orders that crippled businesses in New York for months last year, the three-term governor seems to be singing a different tune. Cuomo’s enlightened call to reopen the state just days before fellow Democrat Joe Biden is sworn in as president earned him plenty of criticism on social media.

“We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass. The cost is too high. We will have nothing left to open. We must reopen the economy, but we must do it smartly and safely,” Cuomo tweeted Monday.

President Trump and other Republicans had spent months calling for the economy to reopen and Cuomo’s lightbulb moment was mocked by Donald Trump Jr. who tweeted, “Brilliant strategist… it’s incredible that no one thought of this months ago!”

In his State of the State address on Monday, Cuomo addressed New York’s $15 billion deficit as he spoke on the need to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“First, we must defeat COVID and beat back the assault as the virus rages in these next few months. It will not be easy. High-performing hospital systems, as well as the diligence of New Yorkers, are the keys to stop the spread,” he said.

“Second, the vaccine will end the COVID crisis. We must vaccinate 70% to 90%, and we must do it safely and fairly. We must also learn the glaring and costly lessons of America’s failed public health system, so we are better prepared for the next time … Third, we must deal with the short-term economic crisis. A record $15 billion state deficit,” Cuomo continued.

Small business owners in New York have been battling the governor’s draconian orders for months, at times flouting restrictions and risking massive fines and even arrests. The co-owner of Mac’s Public House on Staten Island made headlines last month when he was arrested for allegedly refusing to stay shut down. The struggling business and its employees were slapped with thousands of dollars in fines.

Despite the repeated threats to New Yorkers about following the state’s orders, Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio seemed to have trouble adhering themselves. The mayor sparked a heated backlash on New Year’s Eve when he was seen dancing with his wife in a nearly-empty Times Square after he had warned residents to stay home and away from the area.

Several restaurants and bars in upstate New York sued Cuomo over the endless COVID-19 bans and restrictions and the Democrat spent days leading up to the 2020-holiday season warning against travel and even visiting family and friends.

“New York faces increasing COVID cases throughout the state, and we have a long way to go before getting to the light at the end of the tunnel. But we know what causes the spread—social interactions and holiday gatherings are contributors—and we know how to slow it down,” Cuomo said on Monday as the state announced 170 COVID-19-related deaths in one day.

Amid the dire numbers and somber updates, Cuomo’s call to reopen the economy seemed a strange contradiction. Many Twitter users had some theories – and lots of criticism – after his tweet.

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Frieda Powers

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