Cuomo to Trump: “You Can’t Pass the Buck Without Passing the Bucks”

Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks as the USNS Comfort pulls into a berth in Manhattan on March 30.
Reuters/ Carlo Allegri

While New York is seeing the COVID-19 curve flatten, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday there’s still much more work to be done before reopening the economy.

Total hospitalizations in New York continued their decline on April 16, down from 17,735 the day before to 17,316. The number of ICU patients also declined by 32 over those days.

Despite these improvements, New York is still seeing nearly 2,000 new hospital COVID-19 cases a day. And on April 16, New York State lost another 630 patients to the coronavirus.

Still, Cuomo expressed satisfaction about the progress achieved.

“I was afraid that this thing was uncontrollable and that despite everything we did, it would make the numbers continue to go through the roof,” he said. “But we proved we could control the beast.”

As for when New York could be taken off of PAUSE, Cuomo said that New York may still be in the first phase of combating the crisis by continuing to reduce the spread of the disease, but the state is starting to shift into the second phase, which would involve reopening the economy.

“The situation we are in now is unsustainable,” the governor said. “People can’t stay in their homes for this length of time, they can’t be out of work. You can’t keep the economy closed forever, you just can’t. Society can’t handle it.”

But Cuomo again reminded the Trump administration that if the economy is to start generating revenue again, COVID-19 testing capacity must be ramped up dramatically in the absence of an effective treatment or a vaccine.

A reporter’s question about Twitter brickbats President Donald Trump was aiming at Cuomo even as he was speaking elicited a strong response from the governor.

“You can’t pass the buck without passing the bucks,” Cuomo said.

On Twitter, the president was busy telling the states themselves to step up their testing capacity and he took on Cuomo for earlier estimates that New York would need to double its hospital capacity.

“Governor Cuomo should spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘complaining,’” Trump tweeted. “Get out there and get the job done. Stop talking! We built you thousands of hospital beds that you didn’t need or use, gave large numbers of Ventilators that you should have had, and helped you with testing that you should be doing. We have given New York far more money, help and equipment than any other state, by far, & these great men & women who did the job never hear you say thanks. Your numbers are not good. Less talk and more action!”

Told that this was how Trump was responding to him in real time, Cuomo said, “Let’s address the president. If he’s at home watching TV, maybe he should get up and get to work.”

New York secured most of its ventilators through private purchase and donations from nations such as China. The federal government provided 2,000 ventilators to New York State in March, and promised another 2,000 to come — days after Trump downplayed the need for ventilators in New York. In recent days, with the curve flattening, New York has started distributing unneeded ventilators to other states, such as New Jersey and Michigan.

Additional reporting by Emily Davenport and Robert Pozarycki. This story first appeared in To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit