In a press conference on September 29, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that he is “not accepting liability” for the economic losses that have occurred in New York City and New York State due to the COVID-19 outbreak. He blames the entire situation on President Donald Trump.
Gov. Cuomo said, “We have tremendous losses for COVID, we are not liable for them. I’m not accepting liability. I’m not accepting the premise that New York State or New York City should pay. We didn’t do anything wrong. The federal government should pay. The federal government was wrong. It’s the federal government that allowed us to be ambushed by COVID. It’s the federal government that missed that the virus went from China to Europe, and they missed it for three months.
“(The federal government was) totally asleep at the switch, and we had no notice. The other states at least had several months’ notice, we had no notice. So, the federal government is liable, they’re going to pay that bill not us…How is New York City and New York State going to solve the deficit? We’re not, it’s Donald Trump’s deficit. He has to fix it.”
But that wasn’t the case when the stories of the virus first made headlines.
On January 24, Cuomo said, “We are undertaking a wide-reaching and rigorous effort with all stakeholders, including healthcare providers, airports and federal health officials, to put in place the appropriate precautions to keep New Yorkers safe. The symptoms of this virus are very similar to a common cold — if you are concerned that you might be ill, please follow our guidance to protect yourself and others.”
A New York Post article published on January 25 states that health officials were aware of the potential dangers of a New York City outbreak, and were observing three individuals who, at the time, were suspected of having the virus.
It was not until a little over a month later when a woman traveling from Iran became the state’s first confirmed COVID-19 case on March 1.
“From the beginning, we have said it was a matter of when, not if there would be a positive case of coronavirus in New York. Now our first case has been confirmed,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said about the state’s first case. Adding, that the state had been on “high alert for weeks.”
“The patient has respiratory symptoms but is not in serious condition and has been in a controlled situation since arriving to New York,” Gov. Cuomo said. “There is no reason for undue anxiety.”
The people and business owners of New York City and state would strongly disagree with the notion.
Despite Gov. Cuomo’s statements about having a “controlled situation,” New York City quickly became the nation’s epicenter with 243,595 infections and currently accounts for roughly 12% of the nation’s deaths.
Instead of addressing some of the policy failures that led to the deaths of tens of thousands of nursing home patients and faltering economy, Gov. Cuomo alleges that the situation is now entirely the fault of Donald Trump and his administration.
Before the pandemic really hit New York, the state already had a $14 billion budget deficit. In order to combat COVID-19, Cuomo was given essentially unilateral control over funding so resources could be properly allocated to deal with the fallout. Now, he wants the federal government to pick up the bill.
The big problem is that the state has been reluctant to open up and has hindered any potential recovery effort and tax revenues.
Only within the last couple of weeks has the city of New York allowed restaurants to open their indoor seating areas at a measly 25% capacity, while most of the nation is at least at 50% capacity or more. For restaurant owners, this is helpful, but not nearly enough to keep their businesses alive in a city as costly as New York.
“Anything to stay alive is helpful, but 25% does nothing for us,” Mike Giammarino, manager and president of the famous Lombardi’s pizzeria, said in an interview with The Guardian. “It’s not going to stop restaurants from closing. Once the weather changes and the little bit of spark that came with outdoor dining fades and there aren’t so many people walking around, you’re going to see a lot more restaurants fail.”
Gov. Cuomo is also punishing organizations that were willing to help at the height of the pandemic, like Samaritan’s Purse, by requiring their medical volunteers to pay state income taxes. It’s just another way that the state can siphon money from others instead of figuring out a way to deal with its enormous budget deficit.
Photo from lev radin / Shutterstock.com
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