Cuomo Takes on Grim Reaper McConnell on State Bankruptcy Advice

Governor Andrew Cuomo will leave office in August.
Mark Hallum

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced phase one of a COVID-19 testing program that will survey 5,000 New Yorkers to establish a credible infection rate in the state as a previous decline in hospitalizations has flattened out over the past week.

The governor, in his Thursday briefing on the coronavirus crisis, said 1,359 people have been hospitalized statewide in the last 24 hours while 438 died in the same period.

Cuomo, meanwhile, leaped at the jugular of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who asserted that states with heavy coronavirus numbers should file bankruptcy rather than get funding from federal government.

Senate majority leader asserts COVID-19 relief is a blue state bailout

Cuomo pointed out that New York generates 10 percent of the nation’s GDP as well as $116 billion in annual funding for the federal government, dwarfing the contributions of McConnell’s home state, Kentucky.

“You want to see that market fall through the cellar? Let [New York, Michigan, Illinois, California] declare bankruptcy. You will see a collapse of this national economy,” Cuomo said. “Vicious is saying what Senator McConnell said — that this is a blue state bailout… New York puts in more money to the federal pot than it takes out. His state takes out more than it puts in. Senator McConnell, who’s getting bailed out here? It’s your state that is living on the money that we generate.”

At this point, New York State health officials estimate the infection rate to be about 13.9 percent — or 12 percent among women and 16 percent among men. The New York City estimate comes in at about 21 percent.

More than 16,500 people have died of confirmed cases, Cuomo said, but this number will grow not only as more people die but also as the cause of death is assessed and confirmed for at-home deaths and other suspected cases. The governor also said the state needs to take stock of deaths and cases going back before the pandemic officially began, pointing to revelations of two COVID-19 fatalities in Santa Clara, California, going back to early February.

One testing site will be located in a New York City Housing Authority complex, which Cuomo said would be an effort to get a better assessment of the virus’ impact on low-income communities of color, which are currently underserved by the testing done to date.

Cuomo also warned that the state will crack down on nursing homes, amidst criticism that his administration has responsibility for the high death rates coming out of such facilities. Such locations will now be held accountable for requiring personal protective equipment and temperature checks for staff — as is required by state law.

The state will also make nursing homes isolate COVID-19 residents by transferring them within a facility or to another facility and to notify families within 24 hours of a resident testing positive for coronavirus.

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