Situation Deescalating, Cuomo Urges “Building Back Better”

Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York has lessons it can learn from the coronavirus outbreak here.
Flickr/ Governor Andrew Cuomo

Marking the 51st day since COVID-19 arrived in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo continued reporting a decline in hospitalizations and deaths on Monday while telling New Yorkers this is a reason to “build back better.”

According to Cuomo, the resolve demonstrated after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012 led to improvements in Lower Manhattan and Long Island that made both areas stronger and better than before tragedy struck.

“Since we are going to have to go through all of this and it’s not going to be fast, let’s at least make this a moment when we look back we can say, ‘Wow, we went through hell but look at the lessons we learned and look how much better we made this place from this incident,’” Cuomo said. “We went through 9/11… We were smart enough to say, how do we build it back better? You look at downtown Manhattan now, it is better than it was before 9/11.”

There are currently 16,103 hospitalizations statewide with 1,380 new cases identified and 478 deaths since Sunday. The deescalation of the crisis in New York led to questions about angry protests against stay-at-home orders that have erupted across the nation by protesters, some of whom claim that the virus is a hoax.

“You don’t need protests to convince anyone that we need to get back to work,” Cuomo said. “Go tell the families of the 400 people who died yesterday. But some people you just can’t do anything with.”

Again Cuomo asked for federal funding to strengthen the state budget, warning that otherwise 20 percent cuts could be necessary in support for schools, local governments, and hospitals.

President Donald Trump said Monday once again that testing is the responsibility of state governments. Cuomo did not disagree, but said that the federal government must step up to untangle the national supply chain “quagmire” of obtaining the supplies for testing.

The state will put in place a statistical model based on population and infection rates to initiate randomized antibody testing across the state, in the hopes of identifying infected individuals who have established immunity to COVID-19 whose blood plasma could be beneficial to those who are seriously ill.

Frontline workers need hazard pay, Cuomo said, as well as a 50 percent bonus for their labor during a major epidemic. In making that argument, the governor acknowledged that frontline workers do not have the same choice as that enjoyed by many white, middle-class New Yorkers to carry out their jobs from the comfort and safety of their homes but must instead risk their lives to put food on the table and keep a roof over their family’s heads.