New York and New Jersey combined have suffered more COVID-19 deaths than any other country being tracked by researchers who run the Johns Hopkins crisis dashboard. Cuomo made three breathtakingly bad moves in March that in retrospect amounted to catastrophe. First, Cuomo failed to call for, and even actively discouraged, informal social-distancing measures in early March. Next was the delay in mid-March in ordering formal closures when the virus started rampaging through his state. Third was his March 25 edict to long-term care facilities that they must accept infected patients, which caused a mass deadly outbreak among helpless, trapped, elderly New Yorkers. Only in the last few days have some corners of the media begun to call attention to just how badly Cuomo has failed us.
Like de Blasio, who as late as March 10 was on MSNBC telling New Yorkers that most of us were at little to no risk and that the coronavirus was much like seasonal flu, Cuomo persisted with his don’t-scare-away-the-tourists happy talk well into March, the critical month. On March 1, the day New York State logged its first confirmed case of the coronavirus (a health-care worker who had just returned from Iran), Cuomo assured everyone that, although one of his own daughters had called him in a state of panic, there was no need to be afraid. “The facts defeat fear. Because the reality is reassuring. It is deep breath time. . . . This is not our first rodeo with this type of situation in New York,” Cuomo boasted, adding, “Excuse our arrogance as New Yorkers,” but the state was fully prepared. “We don’t even think it’s going to be as bad as it was in other countries,” he said. “We’re going to have a special effort for our nursing homes, et cetera, congregate facilities where senior citizens are being treated.” He further boasted that the state had broken free of federal restraints about testing: “Now we are actually in control of the systems ourselves. And as New Yorkers we like control.”