Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo fired both barrels at the federal government and governors who are in his view reopening their states’ economies prematurely. Cuomo asked rhetorically how much a human life is worth while blasting Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and President Trump for opposing potential federal aid for states hardest hit by COVID-19 as what they termed blue state bailouts.
“This is the Republicans’ fight,” Cuomo said. “I get Republican partisan politics. I get Democratic partisan politics. The president, in my opinion, needs to be the reasonable one here. He has to be the compromiser.”
Cuomo said he didn’t believe that Democrats in the House would pass another COVID-19 recovery bill unless it contains aid for state governments. He said that he never believed promises that such aid would be added to the previously passed bills.
Cuomo was sharply critical of Trump for stating in an interview published in the New York Post, “It’s not fair to the Republicans because all the states that need help – they’re run by Democrats in every case.” Trump continued, “I don’t think the Republicans want to be in a position where they bail out states that are, that have been mismanaged over a long period of time.”
“He (Trump) will have failed and this nation will suffer,” Cuomo said if aid to the states is not agreed to in Washington. Cuomo said New York’s current $13 billion deficit is due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
“How do you call that a bailout, which is such a loaded word? Such a rhetorical hyperbolic word. There is no bailout,” Cuomo said. “Because of the coronavirus, this nation has been impacted and states have been impacted because states make up the nation, and we need financial help because of the coronavirus situation. This is not any mismanagement by the states. If anything, the mismanagement has been on behalf of the federal government.”
Cuomo said that for years the top states to send more tax money to Washington than they received back from the federal government have been so-called “blue” Democratic states.
Last year, New York sent $29 billion more than it got back, New Jersey $18 billion, Massachusetts $12 billion, Connecticut $9 billion and California $6 billion. Cuomo specifically named McConnell’s Kentucky as taking from the federal government $37 billion more than it contributed in taxes, Alabama as taking $32 billion more than it sent and Florida for taking $30 billion more than it contributed to the federal budget.
He said that since 2015, New York state has paid to the federal government $116 billion more than it has received in federal spending.
Cuomo said that both Democratic and Republican states have been hit by economic shortfalls due to COVID-19 and partisan politics needs to be pushed aside.
Cuomo pointed to a readjustment made to a forecasting model by the IHME Foundation that is relied upon by the White House. The forecast shows more than 134,000 deaths from the disease in the U.S. by early August, more than double the previously estimated 60,000 deaths.
The sharp increase would be attributed to actions by some governors to force early reopenings of their states’ economies even though minimum government guidelines for reopening were not met.
He referred to a quotation from IHME Director Christopher Murray that the revision to the death toll reflected “rising mobility in most U.S. States as well as the easing of social distancing measures expected in 31 states by May 11, indicating that growing contacts among people will promote transmission of the coronavirus.”
Cuomo said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests that the number of new cases each day could reach 200,000 by June if measures that have so far succeeded in slowing the spread of the disease are ended.
“How many more deaths are you willing to sustain to reopen quickly?” Cuomo asked. He also asked how much a human life is worth and answered with the word, “priceless.”
“There’s a cost of staying closed, personal cost, economic cost. There’s also a cost of reopening quickly. Either option has a cost. You stay closed, there’s a cost. You reopen quickly and there’s a cost. The faster we reopen, the lower the economic cost but the higher the human cost because the more lives lost. That, my friends, is the decision we are really making,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said that the state will be working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to bring together experts to develop a blueprint for making changes to the educational system as it reopens. Among the areas they’d be looking at would be bringing new technology into schools, incorporating social distancing techniques into school buildings and providing more opportunities for those with disabilities.
Cuomo invited New York residents to create 30-second commercials designed to encourage the wearing of masks in public. He said that his daughter Mariah Kennedy Cuomo would be volunteering to help judge the entries and decide which ones will be posted online.
Statewide there have been a total of 19,645 COVID-19 deaths according to statistics obtained this afternoon from the state Department of Health, with 230 new fatalities yesterday.
New York has had 321,192 people test positive for the virus. There were 30,240 cases identified in Westchester, 12,144 in Rockland, 1,031 in Putnam, 9,144 in Orange and 3,151 in Duchess.
There were 1,236 deaths in Westchester. Rockland saw 416 of its residents fall victim to the virus. There were no additional deaths yesterday in Putnam with the number remaining at 47. There were 258 Orange County residents lost to the virus. There were 85 deaths in Dutchess.