New York Governor Andrew Cuomo criticized the federal government’s COVID-19 response as he headed to Savannah, Georgia Monday to offer equipment and expertise to officials in that hard-hit city.
“I feel compelled to go because I know a little bit about this, I’ve been in the midst of it,” he told reporters at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. “We are in a position to help where we are now. Our numbers are down low. We have the medical staff, we have the equipment, we have the ventilators and we have the knowledge of how to do this.”
Cuomo said he is making good on a pledge he made when New York was hitting its peak to help other states should they need it. In March and April, New York was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, at the time seeing as many as 13,000 confirmed infections daily, and for ten days in April more than 700 deaths a day. Now the state is registering fewer than 1,000 new infections each day and daily deaths have dropped into the single and double digits.
The governor said he would go anywhere in the country that needs help. And noted that New York is also sending medication and supplies to Florida and has reached out to Texas – the two worst affected U.S. states right now.
Georgia has over 143,000 confirmed cases and nearly 3,200 deaths. Cuomo said his mission there includes taking thousands of pieces of personal protection equipment (PPE), as well as offering advice on dealing with overwhelmed hospitals and how to set up testing and tracing programs. New York tests more than 50,000 people a day for the virus. He and his small team will meet with Savannah Mayor Van Johnson and his advisers.
In a broadside against the Trump administration, Cuomo, a Democrat, accused the federal government of still being “in denial” about the virus.
“It still refuses to follow the science. It still thinks it is going to beat this virus by playing politics,” Cuomo said. “Five months later, this country is still totally unprepared to deal with this.”
President Donald Trump has dismissed criticism of his administration’s COVID-19 response, attributing the high number of cases to widespread testing, which he says skews the numbers.
In an interview with the “Fox News Sunday” TV show, he acknowledged that there are coronavirus hotspots, but added that “it’s going to be under control.” And he played down the threat, saying many of those catching the disease are young people who will quickly recover.
The U.S. is leading the world in confirmed coronavirus infections, now at nearly 3.8 million cases and more than 140,000 deaths.
NYC moves to final reopening phase
Meanwhile, as New York City moved to the final phase of its reopening Monday, large gatherings of young people there and in some suburbs at outdoor bars and restaurants, often without face coverings, has raised alarm among officials, including Governor Cuomo.
“It is a problem,” Cuomo told reporters. “If you have congregations of people, they are going to spread the virus.”
He said the behavior of these young people is jeopardizing New York’s success and he urged them not to be “stupid” and called on the local government and police to enforce rules on social distancing.
While the city is moving to its fourth phase of reopening, several things have been delayed, including the reopening of cinemas, museums and shopping malls and indoor restaurant dining and bars. Sporting events are restarting, but without fans in the stadiums. Zoos, botanical gardens and filming of movies and television programs may resume.