Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) repeatedly criticized President Trump’s response to the coronavirus and the White House’s broader political strategy in the months prior to praising the president’s approach to the outbreak.
On March 7, Cuomo told MSNBC that Trump is sending “mixed messages” regarding the coronavirus pandemic. “Forget what you’re hearing from the federal government,” he said, advising the public to ignore federal authorities. He simultaneously stated a desire to mitigate public panic rooted in fears of governmental incompetence:
There are no mixed messages, only political weaponization by people like you and your brother, Fredo! https://t.co/NqH4pHfuwt
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2020
During a March 16 press conference, Cuomo denounced what he described as a lack of “national leadership,” further accusing the Trump administration of inadequately centralizing the country’s efforts. “It makes no sense” for different states and cities to have varying responses to the threat, assessed Cuomo, calling for a one-size-fits-all standard without accounting for varying conditions between states.
Without mentioning Trump’s name, Cuomo called for the president to provide national guidelines to governors and mayors.
“Let the federal government say these are the guidelines,” Cuomo stated. “Here are the guidelines on schools. Here are the guidelines on businesses. Here are the guidelines on travel. Rather than having a scramble of every local government, state government, trying to figure it out on its own. It makes no sense.”
Cuomo took to Twitter to repeat his call for Trump to deploy national standards to all states and cities:
I have to do more?
No — YOU have to do something! You’re supposed to be the President. https://t.co/tYeDt1lcOZ
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 16, 2020
Via Twitter, Trump responded to Cuomo’s call for a nationwide implementation of standards:
Cuomo wants “all states to be treated the same.” But all states aren’t the same. Some are being hit hard by the Chinese Virus, some are being hit practically not at all. New York is a very big “hotspot”, West Virginia has, thus far, zero cases. Andrew, keep politics out of it….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2020
On Wednesday, Cuomo framed Trump as responsible for an anticipated shortage of ventilators across New York.
“The president says it’s a war,” Cuomo fumed, his voice rising at a press conference at the Javits Center, the massive Manhattan convention hall now being turned into an emergency hospital. “Well then act like it’s a war!”
Faced with New York’s need for 30,000 ventilators to keep virus patients alive when the spread of the virus peaks – which could happen in as soon as two weeks – the federal government had sent 400 from its stockpile.
“You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators,” an angry Cuomo demanded.
In 2015, Cuomo opted against the purchase of 16,000 additional ventilators, explained Betsy McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York. She wrote:
After learning that the state’s stockpile of medical equipment had 16,000 fewer ventilators than New Yorkers would need in a severe pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to a fork in the road in 2015. He could have chosen to buy more ventilators. Instead, he asked his health commissioner, Howard Zucker, to assemble a task force and draft rules for rationing the ventilators they already had.
New York is now rationing ventilators by having two coronavirus-stricken patients share a single machine to address the shortage of units.
After Trump changed his primary residence to Florida from New York in late 2019, Cuomo disparaged the president while claiming the real estate developer did not pay New York state taxes:
It’s not like @realDonaldTrump paid taxes here anyway…
He’s all yours, Florida. https://t.co/9AX0q1aBkQ
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) November 1, 2019
Trump’s politics are “repugnant” to New Yorkers, alleged Cuomo in November 2019, dismissing the president as not being a “real New Yorker” and framing him as a racist.
“[America] was never that great,” claimed Cuomo in an August 2019 speech, mocking Trump’s “Make America Great Again” 2016 presidential campaign slogan.
Of all states, New York has the highest number of coronavirus infections. Asked why the Empire State has such a volume of infections relative to others, Cuomo said, “Because we welcome people from across the globe. We have people coming here…we have people who came here from China, who came here from Italy, who came here from all across the globe.”
News media outlets such as the Associated Press, CNN, New Yorker, New York Times, and Washington Post have praised Cuomo’s response to the coronavirus outbreak while critiquing Trump’s.
Cuomo became “the politician of the moment” and “has emerged as an authoritative voice in the crisis,” asserted the New York Times.
“Everyone needs to see Andrew Cuomo’s inspiring words on the fight against coronavirus,” urged CNN.
According to CNBC, 385 people have died from the coronavirus infection in New York, with nearly 40,000 confirmed cases across the state.