New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted to make a very simple point when we talked Friday afternoon: The Democrat’s theory of how to slow the coronavirus pandemic had succeeded while President Donald Trump’s theory had failed.
Trump’s theory, and that of many Republican governors, according to Cuomo, was this: “We can reopen quickly and we can handle the virus because it will go away, or we will have a vaccine.”
Cuomo’s theory? No matter the political pressure, keep the state closed until the virus had demonstrably receded as measured by widely available testing, lowered hospitalization rates and decreased deaths.
“We tested both theories,” Cuomo told me. “We have the evidence. It’s numbers. It’s irrefutable. Why don’t we pause and recognize the undeniable reality of the situation?”
On the numbers, it’s hard to disagree. On April 9, New York had almost 10,000 coronavirus cases in a single day, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. On Friday, it had just 673 cases statewide. (Overall New York accounts for almost 400,000 of the 2.5 million cases nationally and for one quarter of the 125,039 deaths from the virus.)
How did New York do it? “We had a phased reopening based on metrics,” explained Cuomo. “Factual data points.”
Cuomo says that New York now tests more people than any other state in the country and more people, per capita, than any other country in the world. The state has 700 testing sites and, on Friday alone, conducted 70,000 Covid-19 tests.
New York City, the epicenter of the original outbreak in the United States, only entered Phase I of its reopening plan on June 8 (and Phase 2 on June 22). That was months after some states – primarily clustered in the South and Southwest opened their doors in an attempt to restart the economy. Georgia went first, reopening on April 24. Texas followed on May 1, then Florida on May 4 and Arizona on May 8.
Cases in Texas, Arizona and Florida all hit record daily highs this past week. And in Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott was forced to pause the nation’s second most-populous state’s reopening plan amid the rising numbers.
“The most strident Trump supporters, most strident ideologues – Texas, Florida – are doing a pirouette and there’s nothing graceful about the pirouette,” Cuomo said of his fellow governors.
So, what does Cuomo want? Less of a celebration of what he did in New York than an admission – nationally – that the theory put forward by the White House of how to handle the pandemic was flat wrong.
“There are no Democratic facts and Republican facts,” he told me. “There are just facts.” Added Cuomo:
“A virus has a rate of increase and a number of deaths either goes up or goes down. The number of people going to hospitals goes up or goes down. It’s not subject to debate because the hospital bed is either empty or it’s fully, we either bury people or we don’t.”
That bottom-line thinking is what Cuomo believes the country needs. Ignore facts and play politics and what happened in New York City could happen again. And no one – Republican, Democrat, independent or other – can want that.