Cover: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) Shinya Suzuki
Oye Cuomo Va: Currently accounting for roughly 35 percent of the nation’s COVID-19 related deaths, New York has undoubtedly remained America’s largest hot-spot during the pandemic. In what some argue is an ineffective federal response, many Americans have looked to their states’ governors for leadership. For New Yorkers, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s presence has become a mainstay in their lives as a result of his daily press briefings. Many have praised his transparency and evidence-based leadership during the crisis, but the governor has also been met with ample criticism.
On the left, many of Cuomo’s advocates have lauded the governor for taking action based on evidence and data as opposed to “feelings”. Cuomo himself has stridently insisted to “[not] act emotionally…look at the data. Look at the measurements. Look at the science. Follow the facts.” Jennifer Rubin, at the Washington Post, sharply contrasts Cuomo’s approach with what is viewed as President Trump’s “feelings-based” approach, concluding, “[Trump’s] ‘feeling’…has often been wrong.” She also promotes the idea that Cuomo’s model of decision making should be the only option when lives are at stake. Even some of Cuomo’s harshest critics have had positive words for his daily press briefings. David Turner, an operative at the Democratic Governors Association, explains that “even if [his critics] don’t agree, they appreciate it.” Interestingly, as the Governor’s national profile has risen, there has been talk of him being tapped to be the Democratic running mate, although Joe Biden has promised to pick a woman as his vice president.
On the other hand, several critics of Governor Cuomo have blasted the governor for poor decisions and judgement. Michael Goodwin, at the NY Post, unequivocally blames the governor for a recent uptick of 1,700 deaths that occurred across New York’s nursing homes. He asserts the nursing home crisis in New York (currently 4,813 deaths) was worsened by the governor’s order for these facilities to take in COVID-19 patients – a move that received bipartisan backlash. Criticism of Governor Cuomo has also focused on his prior actions during his governorship. Some have claimed the state’s issue of emergency room shortages existed well before the pandemic began. “In addition, New York bypassed an opportunity five years ago to purchase 16,000 ventilators at a total cost of under $600 million,” according to Joel Griffith, a research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Critics suggest missed opportunities and years of taxpayer waste have under-prepared New York’s hospitals to confront the heavy demand of the pandemic.
Flag This: “This is an unprecedented crisis” is a phrase that has probably been beaten into the ground during the pandemic, yet it is unfortunately accurate. Neither America, nor the world, has dealt with anything of this scale in modern history. Could we have been more prepared? Could the ongoing response be better? The answers will vary depending on who is asked. Whether it’s the President, governors, or health officials, many Americans are understandably looking for someone to blame as thousands of people die. Much of the praise and criticism have a partisan undercurrent as the general election inches closer. Understanding this, both Democrats and Republicans have taken – and will take – the opportunity to hurl criticism at members of the opposing party for their respective responses. However, instead of finding opportunities to discredit the other side, what may better serve both parties is to sincerely focus on the human toll by presenting competing, substantive policies to ensure that we learn from this “unprecedented crisis”.