Perhaps this crisis might produce a better environment for cooperation after all. This statement might have been seen as a simple process-smoothing sop from Andrew Cuomo to Donald Trump, but Cuomo sounds pretty sincere — and detailed in his praise. In his press conference updating events on the COVID-19 outbreak, Cuomo emphasized that he and Trump have always had a good working relationship, and that Trump has been “fully engaged” in the coronavirus containment efforts in New York.
“We’re fighting the same war,” Cuomo said of Trump, and “we’re in the same trench.” That’s quite a change of pace from the partisan bickering of the past few weeks:
Cuomo compliments President Trump's response to New York's coronavirus crisis, saying the president is "fully engaged on trying to help New York" and "very creative and energetic" https://t.co/yMZlZ5gV1w pic.twitter.com/XyTTVXNk4J
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 18, 2020
Cuomo’s complimentary treatment of Trump has a solid factual basis too, at least for Cuomo. The governor announced that New York has now confirmed more than 2,000 cases of COVID-19 infection, the most of any state, and that requires a more robust response. Trump has now ordered a Navy hospital ship to go to New York City to provide more capacity for overtaxed medical facilities in the state, which will help address an anticipated bed shortage over the next few weeks:
UPDATE: The federal government is sending a hospital ship to New York, the USNS Comfort.
The Comfort, which has about 1,000 rooms on it, will be moored in New York Harbor.
Hospital beds are what we need. pic.twitter.com/CwTVJhJvDi
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 18, 2020
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced there are now over 2,000 cases of coronavirus in New York – the most in the country.
A total of 549 people are currently hospitalized – approximately 23 percent of the total number of cases. However, 108 confirmed coronavirus cases have been discharged from hospitals since the start of the pandemic.
Gov. Cuomo stressed that the rate of the curve of the virus suggests that in 45 days the state could need up to 110,000 beds. Currently, there is a capacity of 53,000 beds in the state.
The White House announced today that the Army Corps of Engineers is consulting with Cuomo on building out more hospital space, too, a key concern for Cuomo. Small wonder, then, that Cuomo felt compelled to show some grace — and thankfully, Cuomo decided to do so.
That wasn’t the only news out of Cuomo’s presser. While he offered solicitous praise for Trump, Cuomo at least indirectly rebuked New York City mayor Bill de Blasio for his suggestion of a total lockdown. “That’s not going to happen,” Cuomo declared:
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo rejected the notion that New York City could be facing a ‘Shelter-in-place’ order on Wednesday, contradicting a warning from Mayor Bill de Blasio that residents should prepare for one.
“That is not going to happen, shelter in place, for New York City,” said Cuomo on a Wednesday morning podcast. “For any city or county to take an emergency action, the state has to approve it. And I wouldn’t approve shelter in place.” …
De Blasio’s preparation warning on Tuesday followed an announcement that New York City would be testing 5,000 residents for the COVID-19 Wuhan virus per day, while “highly prioritizing” those that should be tested. De Blasio and Cuomo presented a united front when announcing the closure of NYC schools until at least April 20, but Cuomo said a mandated quarantine would be more of a problem than the spread of disease.
“Quarantine in place, you can’t leave your home…the fear, the panic is a bigger problem than the virus,” Cuomo said during the Wednesday interview.
Clearly, Cuomo doesn’t have any trouble telling de Blasio that he’s not in the same trench, so to speak, even if they’re fighting the same war. That underscores the sincerity of Cuomo’s remarks about Trump, or at least the graciousness involved in making them part of the public record. If we can get more of that in both directions, perhaps our social distancing now will result in more political cooperation down the road.