The left never tires of blaming President Donald Trump for coronavirus deaths. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, is a media darling.
He’s not the president, nor is he in the running to be the next resident of the White House — although there are plenty of people who wish it were him instead of Joe Biden representing the Democratic Party this November.
Perhaps if that had happened, they’d start looking more seriously at Cuomo’s woeful mismanagement of the state with, by far, the most COVID-19 cases in America.
And it isn’t just that Cuomo’s state has the most coronavirus cases and deaths. Or that it has the most deaths in nursing homes, generally acknowledged to house the most vulnerable populations of individuals. Or that he forced nursing homes to accept patients recovering from COVID-19 from hospitals, exacerbating (and, in fact, perhaps even creating) the problem.
It’s that, according to a Thursday New York Times article, Cuomo’s problem wasn’t just limited to his state. New Yorkers were the “the primary source of infections around the United States,” The Times reported, a process that Cuomo helped facilitate by threatening to sue anyone that quarantined visitors from the Empire state.
A study of the virus’ signature mutations found that there were outbreaks caused by New Yorkers reaching from coast to coast, including in Arizona, Louisiana and Texas.
“We now have enough data to feel pretty confident that New York was the primary gateway for the rest of the country,” said Nathan Grubaugh, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health.
Even in Washington state, the location of the first outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States, 42 percent of tested cases were traced to New York, according to The Times.
In California, 50 percent of the cases tested were associated with the New York outbreak, compared with 32 percent from Washington, The Times reported. Seventy percent of the tested cases in Texas came from New York. In Arizona, it was 84 percent. In Ohio, 88 percent and in Iowa, 100 percent. Also, 100 percent of tested cases in Louisiana, another major hot spot for the virus, were traced to New York.
At this point, it’s probably helpful to remember what happened when the governors of other states wanted visitors from New York to quarantine if they traveled there:
Cuomo threatened to sue governors from other states for asking travelers from New York to quarantine for 14 days, and his health commissioner advised New Yorkers to ignore those requests.
Now it looks like New York started outbreaks around the country. https://t.co/uoS0cXuaR0
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) May 7, 2020
When Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order on March 27 to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus in her state, she specified that New Yorkers who traveled to the Ocean State would have to quarantine for 14 days — and said she would send law enforcement door-to-door to make sure they complied, according to ABC News.
To enforce the order, she would have had state troopers at the border flagging down cars with New York plates and getting their contact information. If they planned to stay, they were ordered into quarantine.
“This is an emergency,” Raimondo said, according to ABC. “That’s a law. That’s an order. It comes with penalties. It’s not a suggestion.”
As for the constitutionality of it? That seems like an awfully quaint thing to consider now, considering some of the measures states are willing to take in the name of not spreading the coronavirus.
“What is constitutional in one scenario is different than in another. This is pinpointed, this is targeted, this is a state of emergency, this is limited in time, and it’s going to be enforced in a respectful way,” Raimondo said. “And it’s a public health necessity.”
Cuomo then threatened to sue Rhode island. Raimondo backed off.
“We had a conversation. I don’t think the order was called for, I don’t think it was legal, I don’t think it was neighborly,” Cuomo said.
It may not have been neighborly, but it might have been smart.
Raimondo eventually ordered a quarantine of “any person coming to Rhode Island by any mode of transportation after visiting another state for a non-work-related purpose.” A less targeted response is a less effective one, however.
This is how Cuomo stopped states from quarantining people from New York at a time it would have made a difference. Now, New York still has the most cases in the country by a wide margin; the same with deaths. As of Sunday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University data, there were 26,612 coronavirus deaths in New York, more than two-and-a-half times more than New Jersey, the next highest state.
Not only that, we now know that New Yorkers are responsible for the vast majority of coronavirus cases in the United States.
Cuomo’s team has done what it does best on the issue: Blame Trump.
The governor’s communications director, Dani Lever, said there was an “enormous failure by the federal government to leave New York and the East Coast exposed to flights from Europe, while at the same time instilling a false sense of security by telling the State of New York that we had no COVID cases throughout the entire month of February.”
And yet, that’s what the media narrative will continue to be. Cuomo’s mistakes will be airbrushed — even as his state remains the tragic outlier in America’s COVID-19 crisis. By threatening to sue other states that would have forced New Yorkers to quarantine, he helped spread the virus, too.
He has no one to blame for that but himself.
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