The governor has somehow been spared an aggressive effort by the journalistic establishment to relitigate the month of February. What was the president doing at the time to mitigate the terrible effects the pandemic would have on American society in March? If the question was asked of the governor, the answer would be, what everyone else was doing: downplaying the pandemic. “We went through this before: Zika virus, Ebola, et cetera,” Cuomo said on February 7. “But let’s have some connection to the reality of the situation,” he continued, “catching the flu right now is a much greater risk than anything that has anything to do with coronavirus.”
By late March, with the scale of the disaster now acutely felt, the governor lashed out at President Donald Trump for suggesting that he did not believe New York would require “40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.” Cuomo called the president’s suggestion “ignorant” and “grossly uninformed,” insisting that the 4,400 ventilators the state had received from the federal government would prove disastrously inadequate. But it turned out that ventilators were of less utility for treating advanced COVID-19 cases than medical professionals initially believed, and the state’s peak caseload came earlier and with fewer overall infections than anticipated. In the end, if the president had caved to the media-driven pressure to transfer nearly all its ventilator reserve to New York, they’d have gone largely unused, and the rest of the country would have been in a precarious position as a result.