Federal failures played a role, of course, but this tragedy was absolutely due, in part, to decisions by the governor. Cuomo initially “reacted to De Blasio’s idea for closing down New York City with derision”, saying it “was dangerous” and “served only to scare people”. He said the “seasonal flu was a graver worry”. A spokesperson for Cuomo “refused to say if the governor had ever read the state’s pandemic plan”. Later, Cuomo would blame the press, including the New York Times for failing to say “Be careful, there’s a virus in China that may be in the United States?” even though the Times wrote nearly 500 stories on the virus before the state acted. Experts told ProPublica that “had New York imposed its extreme social distancing measures a week or two earlier, the death toll might have been cut by half or more”…

The mask mural is yet another publicity stunt mistaken by the press as a sign of leadership. On 29 April, Cuomo unveiled a wall of handmade cloth masks that had been sent to his office by concerned citizens all over America. He called it “a self-portrait of America. You know what that spells? It spells love.” Since the arrangement of masks doesn’t form words, the mural doesn’t actually spell anything, but it is a perfect symbol of Cuomo’s leadership failures. Handmade cloth face coverings are not as effective as N95 masks, of course, but if unsuitable for healthcare workers they would still have been perfectly appropriate to distribute to New Yorkers (some of whom have been brutally arrested for not wearing masks). But Cuomo, rather than putting the needs of New Yorkers first, chose to tack hundreds of cloth masks on a wall as a monument to himself.